Tag Archive for Streetsblog Los Angeles

A successful Wilshire CicLAvia, Give Me 3 moves forward, and who knew drivers run stops signs, too?

The view from the Downtown hub

The view from the Downtown hub

Just a few quick thoughts on Sunday’s CicLAvia.

After all, there’s been more than enough written on the subject to make a review by yours truly truly irrelevant.

But let me offer my congratulations to the folks at CicLAvia for pulling off the most successful event yet.

Maybe it was the extended 9 am to 4 pm hours, allowing people to travel the route more leisurely.

It could have been using both sides of a wide boulevard, unlike the recent CicLAvia to the Sea, allowing more space to move. And the limited traffic crossings certainly didn’t hurt, making it possible for even the slowest riders to cover the entire route in an hour or so of actual pedaling.

Meanwhile, the shorter distance encouraged more walking, making this the first one where I’ve seen a significant amount of pedestrians along the entire route.

Evidently, bikes are good for business

Evidently, bikes are good for business

It might have been the iconic theme for an iconic boulevard. Along with the many entertainment and educational options along the route; the woman singing traditional Korean songs in not so traditional Koreatown was a highlight for me.

Call it Gangnam-style from a handful of centuries back.

Then there was the food of every possible description, dispensed from everything from trucks and restaurants to church groups and kids hawking cookies and lemonade.

It could have been the abundance of portapotties, reducing bladder pressure and putting everyone in better mood.

Or maybe it was all of the above, in what felt like the best planned and organized CicLAvia yet. Clearly, organizers have looked at what didn’t work in previous events and made some changes for the better.

I'll believe a car-free Wilshire when I see  unicorn on it

I’ll believe a car-free Wilshire when I see unicorns

One minor criticism is that participants universally ignored signs suggesting slower people should keep to the right, resulting in conflict zones throughout the full length of Wilshire. Which may have been why I saw three riders fall, resulting, thankfully, in relatively minor injuries.

The worst was a woman who lay in the street grabbing her collarbone, causing me to ride a few blocks back to an aid station get medical help.

The others suffered scrapes and road rash, and declined medical help.

Note to everyone: If you have the option for free medical help in an event like this, take advantage of it. Prompt first aid can prevent worse problems later, and the need for avoid more expensive medical attention if further injuries become apparent the next day, as often happens.

A friend writes that she witnessed a bike-bourn hit-and-run, in which a couple on a tandem rode off after knocking down another rider. Witnesses were unable to stop the bike before it disappeared into the crowd, leaving the victim sprawled bloody on the street.

Me taking a picture from Downtown hub; photo by Maraget Wehbi

Me taking a picture from Downtown hub; photo by Maraget Wehbi

Then there’s the schmuck — and I use the term advisedly — who apparently was unwilling to make his way to one of the four crossing points, and gunned his late model Toyota through the barricades at Windsor Ave and across the CicLAvia route, where he hit a cyclist before fleeing the scene.

Fortunately, the rider wasn’t seriously hurt, though badly shaken. (Update: The rider has three fracture vertebrae as well as a mangled bike; having suffered the same injury a few decades back, he likely faces a long road to recovery and a lifetime of back pain.)

Unfortunately, the limited description means the driver will probably get away with it.

But on the off chance they find him, I hope they take away his license. And shove it so far up his ass he’ll need to see a proctologist to buy his next six pack of beer.

………

Congratulations to Wolfpack Hustle on pulling off what I’m told was a very successful and popular first-ever Civic Center Criterium on Sunday.

………

California’s latest attempt at passing a three-foot passing law is now before the Senate Standing Committee on Transportation and Housing after overwhelmingly passing the state Assembly, just shy of a veto-proof two-thirds majority.

The bill’s sponsor, Inglewood Assemblymember Steven Bradford, has been very smart in answering the unreasonable objections Governor Jerry Brown gave in vetoing the last two attempts to pass a three-foot law.

There should be no rational reason for Brown to veto the law this time around. Although as we’ve seen, rationality isn’t exactly his strong point when it comes to bikes.

There are some strong supporters of bicycling on this committee, including West Valley Sen. Fran Pavley. But it couldn’t hurt to contact committee members to voice your support.

As we’ve seen with the previous attempts to pass this law, nothing is guaranteed in California politics.

………

After learning that the rate of cellphone violations are down in California, a writer from the Press-Enterprise conducts his own survey and finds 7.7% of drivers he observed at a Temecula intersection were texting or using handheld phones — slightly higher than state stats.

More interesting, however, was his secondary observation that two-thirds of the drivers failed to stop for the stop signs.

Based accusations from motorists, I would have sworn only bike riders do that.

Pot, meet kettle.

………

Speaking of anti-bike bias, so much for the L.A. Newspaper Group’s self-proclaimed Summer of Cycling being a good thing, as the owners of the Daily News, Daily Breeze, Press Telegram, et al, once again trot out the tired cliché of licensing cyclists and requiring insurance for bike riders.

As usually happens when the press chums for angry drivers, the results will inevitably skew towards requiring licensing for bike riders, if only because there are far more motorists than there are bicyclists. Never mind that this question reads like a classic push poll designed to draw a negative response.

So once again, for their benefit and that of anyone else unclear on the concept, like most bicyclists, I have a drivers license, which means we’ve already passed the same test as anyone else on the road — and probably have a better knowledge of traffic law than most, since we too frequently have to defend our right just to be on the road.

And despite what the papers suggest, my automotive insurance covers me for liability when I ride, as well as covering medical expenses resulting from a collision with an uninsured motorist or a solo fall.

Just like pretty much every American bike rider over the age of 16.

So get over it, already.

And before they claim to cover the subject, they need to reach out to the people and groups who are fighting for the rights of cyclists every day.

Not the angry drivers who don’t have a clue about the rights of cyclists, or how to ride a bike safely on the streets of Southern California.

………

Congratulations to our friends at LA Streetsblog, winners of two L.A. Press Club awards Sunday night.

Well deserved.

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Former LADOT Bike Blogger and current Calbike board member Chris Kidd updates his comprehensive listing of state sidewalk riding laws, including percentages of where it’s legal in each county.

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Looks like we’re all invited to the official inauguration ceremony for our new mayor this Sunday evening. LADOT ranks the 50 most dangerous intersections for pedestrians; something tells me they’re not much safer for anyone else. Beverly Hills begins work on the city’s first bike lanes; needless to say, they’re only being installed on a trial basis. A writer raises questions about plans to improve bicycling on Redondo Beach’s Harbor Drive. A SoCal cyclist sets a new national one-hour record at the Home Depot Center Velodrome in Carson. A Valencia woman faces charges for a hit-and-run that seriously injured a cyclist. San Diego prosecutors decide on misdemeanor charges for the driver responsible for killing cyclist Charles Gilbreth — despite recklessly passing a bus — and blame fallen cyclist David Ortiz, at least in part, for his own death.

Bikes Belong looks to reinvent itself. A smart new Maine bill redefines traffic to include bikes, bans right hooks and removes the restriction to ride to the right. NYPD is — finally — starting to take traffic fatalities seriously; thanks to Erik Griswold for the heads-up. A New York columnist offers his take on the city’s new bike share program; Gothamist says that all you got? A Virginia cyclist is hit by a stray bullet when a man can’t manage to load his gun without firing it. A Texas woman leaps off her bike at the last second to avoid getting run over by a cement truck. New Orleans gets bike lanes on iconic Esplanade Ave. One hundred nineteen years ago yesterday, a Jewish mother of three successfully set out from Boston to bike around the world.

A bike-hating Toronto writer changes his tune after just  two hours on two wheels. A Winnipeg writer offers a tongue-in-cheek look at six ways a cyclist with a death wish can become a hood ornament; decent advice, but somehow, not so funny. Bikes now make up as much as a quarter of London’s rush hour traffic. Tips for the bike curious. Even in the Netherlands, childhood bike riding is down as more parents drive their kids to school. A look back at 150 years of bicycling in Copenhagen. Evidently, you need nine lives to ride a bike.

Finally, I don’t even know what to say here, as a Swiss man sexually assaults a bicycle after puncturing both tires; presumably so it couldn’t get away, I guess. And if you’re carrying a sunglass case full of meth on your bike at 1 am, put a damn light on it, already.

The bike, that is, not the meth.

Is an accident just an accident?

There’s an interesting debate going on over at Streetsblog.

As I noted the other day, Damien Newton has written about a new ghost bike at Fountain and La Brea — a memorial to two women who died when one of the cars involved in a typical traffic accident careened into the women as they stepped off the curb, killing them both.

Just another tragic accident.

After all, no one intentionally did anything to endanger these women. They were just in the wrong place, at the wrong time, when things when out of control with unintended consequences. And yet, they’re still dead.

As Damien put it:

Of course, neither driver was charged in the crash because of a little-known, but oft-cited, part of the vehicle code that clearly states, “Unless a driver is drunk, runs away from the crash or does something else horrific but telegenic action; said driver can kill as many pedestrians as he or she desires.”  I guess causing a chain reaction of crashes that kills two elderly women, and injured a third pedestrian, wasn’t quite exciting enough.

A few people took exception to that. David Galvin, for instance:

Right. Because the drivers of both of these vehicles really desired to kill two people that day. How do you know that? Because they were driving cars. Murderous monsters. Do drivers of the blue line “desire” to kill someone when that happens?… The incident mentioned in the post was tragic. And yes it resulted from either wrecklessness OR a momentary lapse in judgement OR a mistake. And yes, it cost the lives of two people. But there IS such a thing as an accident.

Which got me wondering, is there really such a thing as an accident? Or to put it another way, is it possible to have a collision without at least one of the drivers — or yes, cyclists or pedestrians — violating the law in some way?

I’m not sure it is.

Invariably, one or more of the people involved is speeding, tailgating, or fails to yield the right-of-way. Or simply isn’t paying enough attention.

I’ve been wracking my brain — or what’s left of it, anyway — and can only come up with two ways an accident could occur with no one being at fault.

The first is when someone or something, such as an animal or a child, darts out into the roadway without warning, forcing drivers to react; of course, this requires the inability to understand the consequences of their actions, otherwise they would be at fault. The other is when a mechanical, road or weather condition eliminates the ability to control the vehicle, such as a steering or brake failure, or hitting a patch of glare ice (though the latter seldom happens here in L.A.).

Of course, it’s not always the vehicles involved that are responsible. Some drivers — like the jackasses who drive city streets at 80 mph, weaving in and out of traffic — cause far more collisions than they seem to have themselves.

And yes, that goes for some cyclists, as well.

But we live in a society that has accepted collisions as a natural, and seemingly inevitable, consequence of mobility. We call them accidents, implying that no one is really at fault. We don’t have enough police officers to fully investigate them or effectively enforce the laws. We have an overburdened court system that discourages filing charges in anything but the most egregious cases. And we have an insurance system that ensures that drivers seldom suffer the financial consequences, either.

And so people die, and it’s no one’s fault.

Damien wrote a great response to the comments — one I highly recommend reading. But this seems to sum it up:

The same logic applies here. People should be paying more attention to the road when approaching a crosswalk, not having momentary lapses. If there’s some external reason (hepped up on caffeine, distraught that his girlfriend dumped him, tired from a day of exams) they shouldn’t be driving in the first place. Cars are deadly when not utilized safely and we should treat them as such and the people driving them should be responsible for their actions.

If a car hits another car, the occupants have over a ton of steel to protect them, along with assorted seat belts, air bags and head restraints. Cyclists and pedestrians, on the other hand, have little or nothing to protect them. And the consequences of someone’s inattention, inability to control their vehicle, or unwillingness to obey the law can be quite different.

Or as another blogger I’ve been reading lately recently wrote:

…when a driver screws up and hits a cyclist, the cyclist gets injured or dies, but when a cyclist screws up and hits a car, the cyclist gets injured or dies.

Update: A man was struck by an out-of-control car today on Lincoln Blvd. in Playa del Rey, apparently while seated on a sidewalk bus bench.

But hey, it was just an accident.

 

Flying Pigeon gets a visit from a Pulitzer Prize winning writer. Alex tells the LACBC to stop twitter stalking his mom. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation supports cycling, so why can’t our own mayor? Texas cyclists put on suits and lobby their legislators. Seattle riders get more infrastructure. A mountain biker dies falling from an unofficial bike trail, and a UK driver fatally runs down a cyclist for damaging his mirror.

For once, I shut up and let someone else talk

Ever since last Friday’s Transportation Committee meeting, I’ve been filtering my own thoughts in preparation of discussing the subject today.

But then Damien Newton of Streetsblog Los Angeles added a comment to my initial post on the subject. And since not everyone clicks the link to read the comments, I thought for once, I’d just shut up and let someone else do the talking.

So take it away, Damien:

It was pretty awesome to see us pack a board room like that…a hundred cyclists, ready to take part in the process…Unfortunately, we’ll still see a lot of setbacks before we get the kind of changes we want to see, and I hope the enthusiasm stays high.

In the meantime, I wrote up a draft letter on bike licensing that people should feel free to use if they want to get City Council to take up this issue. Rosendahl, LaBonge and Parks all seemed ready to go…

councilmember.greuel@lacity.org, councilmember.alarcon@lacity.org, councilmember.parks@lacity.org, councilmember.rosendahl@lacity.org, Councilmember.labonge@lacity.org,


Dear Member of the City Council XXX,

As a committed cyclist, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for respect and concern you showed at last Friday’s committee hearing on bicycling, bicycling infrastructure, and bicyclists rights. During the sometimes heated hearing, you continued to listen to our concerns and questions.

While it is not going to be easy to recreate Los Angeles as a cycling haven, there is one thing that can be done quickly and that is placing a moratorium on the bicycle licensing program. Whether a mandatory program is necessary is a conversation that can’t occur until cyclists are not being harassed for not having a sticker license that is difficult to obtain and not being distributed by the LAPD as they are required to.

Unfortunately, as you saw on Friday, the LAPD doesn’t seem interested in suspending their uneven enforcement of bike licensing even after being confronted on the program several times by Council Members LaBonge, Parks and Rosendahl at last week’s hearing. To that end, we are asking that you not let go of this issue and that you quickly introduce a motion to suspend the program. We understand that Councilman Rosendahl will not be at tomorrow’s hearing, but that doesn’t mean you cannot take action.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to working with you in the future on other bike-related issues.

Sincerely,

X

Just copy, paste and send. Or if you prefer, use Damien’s email as a template, and put it in your own words. But as one who has been an active rabble-rouser over the years, I can tell you that letters and emails like this really do make a difference.

I’ll be back with my own thoughts soon. In the meantime, you can read a recap of the meeting from Stephen Box of the Bike Writer’s Collective — creators of the Cyclist’s Bill of Rights (and a big thanks to all of you for your efforts). Or you can listen to Enci’s recording of the meeting here. 

Note: I’m waiving copyright for this post, in case anyone wants to repost Damien’s letter — and I’m sure it would be okay with him, as well. Right, Damien?

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