Tag Archive for the Biking Black Hole

Morning Links: The last gasp for Santa Monica Blvd bike lanes; is Gil Cedillo sandbagging his own safety meetings?

It may be the last gasp for much-needed bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd in the Biking Black Hole.

The LACBC calls on everyone to attend today’s Beverly Hill’s City Council study session on the proposed bike lanes, or if you can’t make it, email councilmembers in support of the bike lanes largely unsupported by the council.

As usual, Better Bike provides an in-depth analysis of both the roadway and city politics, saying it looks like the fix is in. And not in a good way.

I wonder if the city can be sued for failing to consider the needs of all road users as required by Federal law and the state’s requirement for Complete Streets (pdf). Especially if state and/or Federal funds will be used in the planned reconstruction of the streets.

Now that’s one Kickstarter I’d pitch in for.

………

Local

A 27-year old bike rider was shot to death in South Los Angeles early Monday morning. Do we even need to mention what an incredible waste of human life that is?

A writer for City Watch says a less car-dependent Los Angeles is a fantasy. Then again, he’s probably right if we ignore alternatives and focus strictly on driving, even if the cars are driverless.

CD 1 Councilmember Gil Cedillo appears to sandbag his own street design public meetings for Northeast LA by failing to give sufficient public notice for anyone to actually attend.

 

State

A passer-by — or driver-by in this case — comes upon a Cypress bike collision, and is told the rider survived only because he or she wore a helmet — without noting what injuries the victim did or didn’t suffer, and whether a helmet could have actually made a difference. And never mind the inappropriate photo of a happy, helmet-clad kid.

Bicyclists ask for more space on Caltrain cars.

A Modesto letter writer says drivers have an obligation to stick around if they hit someone — although the driver who admitted hitting him on purpose actually did.

 

National

A new book looks at the history of Bicycles in American Highway Planning from 1969 to 1991, when an emphasis on motor vehicles marginalized bike infrastructure and set bicycling back 40 years.

The much loved Urban Velo succumbs to the times and ceases publication.

Bike friendly Portland encourages people to ride to the airport; if that was a viable option here, maybe we wouldn’t have such disastrous traffic tie-ups every holiday. We can dream, can’t we?

Nice. A non-profit organization founded by a Seattle man has given over 2,000 bicycles to survivors of human trafficking around the world.

Cherokee Schill, the Kentucky cyclist arrested for riding her bike in the traffic lane, has filed to run for Lt. Governor of the seemingly bicycling-challenged state.

 

International

We have met the enemy, and he is us. Brit bike scribe Carlton Reid illustrates how our paved roads — and yes, the cars on them — were begot by bicyclists.

Must have thin skinned police in Italy, as the cops who conducted the possibly flawed investigation into the death of cycling legend Marco Pantani threaten to sue the press for besmirching their reputations.

A new emphasis on cycling has helped change Rwanda’s international image.

Now that’s more like it. Singapore commits to becoming a bicycling nation by 2030, but a former official says it can be done in just six years.

 

Finally…

The perfect gift for your ultra-competitive toddler. A Korean company says it’s developed the first truly functional flat-proof bike tire.

And as if drivers didn’t have enough trouble seeing us, Russia’s Tinkoff-Saxo pro team unveils new camo training uniforms.

 

Don’t expect justice. Not on a bike, not for hit-and-run. And not in Beverly Hills.

Paul Livingston, back on his feet.

Paul Livingston, back on his feet. Photo by Brandon Lake.

Three days in jail for felony hit-and-run.

Exactly half the time her victim spent in a coma. And just a fraction of the seemingly endless days he spent in the hospital, let alone long months in rehab.

No wonder Paul Livingston is mad.

Maybe you remember the story.

Just over three years ago, June 12, 2011, to be exact, Livingston was riding his bike through the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills when he was rear-ended by a driver, who a witness described as weaving in and out of traffic “as if she was drunk.”

In fact, that same witness was dialing 911 to report the driver when she heard the sickening thud of the impact that nearly took Livingston’s life.

As Don Ward tells the story in LA Streetsblog,

Last summer Paul Livingston, an experienced cyclist of 15 years, was commuting along Santa Monica Blvd heading east through Beverly Hills. He began slowing as he approached a stale red light. Relaxed, it was about 6pm on a clear skied Sunday afternoon and his lane – the right lane – was clear. He was estimated to be moving at about 8 miles per hour. Suddenly his world changed forever. Witnesses describe an impatient and unpredictable driver racing in and out of pockets heading east towards the soon to be green light that Paul was approaching. Paul had no chance. He was smashed from behind and thrown. It was reported that the driver never braked but instead accelerated to get away after impact.

Even worse was the terrible toll caused by that collision.

The impact was so harsh that Paul suffered multiple spinal and pelvic fractures, severe internal bleeding and abdominal injuries. He spent 6 days in a coma and another month in the hospital. Doctors performed spinal fusion surgery to 5 levels of his vertebrae. Because of his disability he was let go from his job at SIR Hollywood, and as a result his medical insurance was terminated. With no ability to work he lost his apartment soon after. Paul’s hospital bills add up to well over $1 million dollars. The driver not only left Paul with a massive hospital bill, she stole a life’s joy from him as he lie broken in the street that day. Paul may never again ride a bicycle. None of the witnesses that stayed managed to get a plate, just a vehicle description.

In fact, it was far worse.

In a follow-up piece, Streetsblog’s Sara Bond wrote,

The last thing Paul remembers that day is being put on a stretcher before he woke up in a hospital bed six days later. He suffered spinal and pelvic fractures. His pelvic bone, broken in half and pushed upwards into his bladder had severed blood vessels causing him to bleed internally. When he was first admitted to the hospital he was hypotensive, which means his organs were shutting down with the lack of blood and his body was going into shock. Paul underwent three abdominal surgeries within the first two days just to stop the bleeding. On the fourth day, the doctors were able to fix his pelvis and then he went through spine surgery only to have pelvic surgery once again to get it back to its original position. Paul also suffered from post-operative infection from the abdominal surgeries. Finally, with his fever gone, he was healthy enough to have his spinal fusion – as a result, Paul is a bit shorter now.

Yet despite the severities of his injuries, he credits his helmet with saving his life, and the large bike bag he was carrying with cushioning the impact from the car and protecting him from even greater harm.

The driver, Victoria Chin, called police to turn herself in the next day — after she’d had time to sober up, if the witness was correct — claiming she didn’t stop because she couldn’t find a parking spot.

Well, okay then.

Or at least, that seemed to be the laissez faire — if not incompetent — attitude of the Beverly Hills police.

Rather than send a patrol officer out to see her — let alone make a badly needed arrest — the officer she spoke with told her she had to come to the station turn herself in, and to bring the car with her. Instead, she showed up the next day with no car and a lawyer in tow, refusing to say or do anything other than identify herself.

And that’s when things got strange.

Livingston's warped bike doesn't begin to capture the extent of his injuries.

Livingston’s badly warped bike doesn’t begin to capture the extent of his injuries.

As far as the BHPD was concerned, no harm, no foul — ignoring that her victim was in the ICU at Cedars Sinai in a medically induced coma at that very moment.

Because of the botched non-investigation, the DA initially declined to press charges. It wasn’t until Livingston’s own lawyer conducted his own investigation and handed them a gift-wrapped case on a silver platter that they even deemed it worth pursuing.

Not that they really seemed very interested, even then.

“I never got the feeling Marta (Miller, the prosecuting attorney) gave a shit about me or my case,” Livingston said when I spoke with him last week.

In fact, he had a bad feeling about it from the beginning.

Chin’s defense attorney, a former Los Angeles DA, boasted on his website about using his connections with the office to benefit his clients. And when Livingston asked about it, he was told that Miller had worked with him for over 10 years.

But no one else seemed to see a conflict of interest; his request for a new prosecutor never even received a response from the DA’s office.

Evidently, his intuition was on target.

At the final court hearing, Miller refused to even acknowledge his presence before the plea deal was announced. Livingston says he knew a deal had been made by the guilty expression on the face of the prosecutor who should have been fighting for society’s, if not his, interests.

Chin entered a plea of no contest to felony hit-and-run. Or rather, a plea was entered on her behalf; she had moved back to her family home in Pennsylvania, and after her initial hearing, didn’t attend any court sessions until she was ultimately sentenced.

That plea deal should have been good news. California sentencing guidelines for felony hit-and-run call for 16 months to three years in state prison, with a fine of $1,000 to $10,000. Severe bodily injury brings an additional one-year enhancement, while permanent injury or death calls for another two to four years.

You’d think titanium rods permanently embedded in your back just to hold your body together would qualify as permanent injury.

But you would be wrong.

As a result of an incredibly generous deal, and despite the felony conviction, Chin was sentenced this past April to just 120 days in jail.

County jail.

Not state prison.

And given the current overcrowding conditions in LA County lockup, Livingston was warned that she wasn’t likely to serve anything close to the full term.

But he was shocked to learn she’d been released after just two days behind bars.

Two days.

Combined with another day in jail following her arrest, her total incarceration adds up to just three days, compared with the minimum 26 months in state custody she should have received. And just half the time Livingston spent in a coma because of her actions.

On the other hand, she was ordered to pay $638,434 in restitution.

Not that he will ever see the money.

Livingston’s insurance company has a $468,000 lien on any judgment. Cedars has another for $150,000. And whatever is left when they’re done will go to St. Vincent Hospital.

And not like anyone realistically expects her to pay.

Like most California drivers, she had the minimum liability insurance coverage of just $15,000 required by California law; an amount that hasn’t been increased since it was established in the 1970s.

Which also means that, while he’s almost assured of winning his civil suit, Livingston probably won’t see a dime for his lost wages, pain or suffering. The only hope is that Chin may — key word, may — have been driving as part of her job that day; if that turns out to be the case, her employer could be on the hook for the full amount of what should be a multi-million dollar settlement on top of the restitution.

Let’s hope so.

……..

Despite everything, Paul Livingston remains remarkably upbeat.

“I’m so lucky,” he says. “I got so lucky.”

Without the herculean efforts of the paramedics and ER staff, he probably wouldn’t have made it through the first night. Even after that, so much could have gone wrong that could have changed his life forever.

Yet today, he pronounces himself fully recovered, physically anyway. He’s jogging a couple of miles every other day, doing push-ups and pull-ups, even lifting weights.

And he’s back to work as a drummer in a reggae band.

On the other hand, as Streetsblog noted, he’s not back on his bike, and probably never will be.

“I’m not riding anymore and I miss it. But there’s absolutely no way I would get on a bike in traffic again, anywhere.”

He also has to bite his tongue when he sees someone else riding a bike on crowded city streets.

“I want to tell them, if you only knew the danger you’re in, not just of getting hurt, but of the person who hit you never being brought to justice…”

His voice tapers off, leaving the thought dangling in the air.

He’d never actually say it, of course.

He knows the sheer joy that comes from riding a bike, and wouldn’t want to take that away from someone else.

But for all his upbeat attitude, the pain and financial stress has taken its toll.

I’ve gotta be honest. I’ve been really bummed out about the medical liens, insurance bullshit, and the reality of possibly not getting anything financially for my pain, suffering and all the emotional stress. I’m a professional musician and I lost my studio in Hollywood, my apartment, my job, my medical insurance. It’s been just one gnarly fight after another.

I had to fight to stay alive, I had to fight to learn how to walk again, I had to fight to get disability payments, I had to fight to get the Beverly Hills DA’s office to press charges and it just keeps going.

The hell I went through is something anyone would go to great lengths to avoid and that’s what’s hard to explain to people.

Until you experience trauma like that, you just don’t know. Imagine not being able to sleep while in pain waiting for spine surgery wondering if you’re going to still be able to walk again, go to the bathroom by yourself, and have sex again.

The physical pain was absolutely brutal but the emotional trauma is something that still haunts me. And I have to live with titanium rods and screws in my back forever.

So yeah, she took a lot away from me and the fact that she only did 3 days in jail makes me want to pack my shit and move to Montana.

But I want to try and help change things here so that other people don’t have to go through the hell I went through.

Yet remarkably, Paul Livingstone is not a vengeful man.

If she had shown some sign of remorse; if she’d just come up to me one time to say she was sorry, I might have let the whole thing go.

But she never did.

……..

Maybe I should let the story end there.

But as someone who has long argued for tougher hit-and-run laws, and applauded the efforts of Don Ward, Damian Kevitt, state Assemblymember Mike Gatto and others to pass hard-hitting legislation, I realize it doesn’t really matter.

This obscene epidemic will never end, and the physical, emotional and financial toll of hit-and-run will continue to build as long as police, prosecutors and the courts refuse to take it seriously.

This should have been an easy case for the police to investigate. But they didn’t care.

It should have been a clear-cut prosecution for the DA’s office. But they didn’t care.

It should have been a chance for the judge to send a message that this kind of behavior won’t be tolerated in a civil society, and that there are serious consequences for running away like a coward and leaving another human being to bleed, and possibly die, in the street.

But he didn’t care.

Or if anyone did, not enough to actually do anything about it.

Until we change the attitude that traffic crime doesn’t matter and people don’t have to be held accountable for their actions, nothing will ever change.

Livingston is right. We can expect a lot of things when we ride.

But justice isn’t one of them.

Especially not in Beverly Hills.

 

Morning Links: New Santa Clarita bike safety campaign; Beverly Hills official calls you an organ donor wannabe

citys-bike-safety-campaign-raise-awareness-about-sharing-road-41943-2-288x322A new Santa Clarita bike safety campaign says Respect is a Two-Way Street.

But they lose me with the illustration of a bike crashing into a car. And the last line that seems to put responsibility on riders to avoid getting killed, rather than on drivers to avoid killing someone.

So what do you think?

……..

This is what cyclists are up against in Beverly Hills.

Better Bike’s Mark Elliot quotes Beverly Krasne, city council member and former mayor of the Biking Black Hole, in justifying her adamant opposition to bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd:

Cyclists are on a donor cycle mission – to give their organs to someone.

Somehow, though, her solution to our perceived recklessness is to keep the city as dangerous and anti-bike-friendly as possible.

Maybe someone should let her know most of us just want to get through her damn city without getting killed in the process.

……..

Police are reviewing the $100 ticket a DC cyclist got for following too closely after he’s buzzed, then brake checked by an angry truck driver — despite riding on sharrows at the time — after bike cam video of the incident is released.

Something tells me the officer needs a little retraining. Or maybe a new job.

And the driver needs to be behind bars.

……..

As long as we’re in DC, I somehow missed this one last week as the US Secretary of Labor says he just wants to ride his bike to work. And that the department is committed to making “cycling to work an affordable, easy and enjoyable option.”

Sounds good to me.

……..

Local

The Source says the new Metro bike map was released just in time for last week’s Bike Week.

The new Los Angeles Register looks at the Bike Kitchen.

The Bike League profiles LA’s own Miguel Ramos of Multicultural Communities for Mobility.

Free bike repairs and repair demos in Santa Monica on Saturday the 31st.

Santa Monica’s Cynergy Cycles is offering a discount on registration for the California Coast Classic Bicycle Tour benefitting the Arthritis Foundation. Which means I now have two medical conditions with their own benefit bike rides, and I’d like to stop there, thank you.

Long Beach’s monthly Kidical Mass continues to grow in popularity.

 

State

Ex-con Michael Reyes pleads guilty to killing Chula Vista bike rider Daniel Voigt while driving in a stolen car with a suspended license last month; he faces over 14 well-deserved years in prison when he’s sentenced in July.

San Diego considers building an enclosed bikeway under the Coronado Bridge, which currently bans bikes. I seriously want to ride that one.

Okay. The Tour de Cluck offers a bike tour of Davis-area chicken coops. Yes, chicken coops.

 

National

The problem with Same Roads, Same Rules is that neither was designed with bicyclists in mind. Amen, brother.

In an insightful piece, a rider says the bike industry shouldn’t forget the women who already ride in their efforts to reach the ones who don’t.

Ten reasons why Open Streets events like CicLAvia rock.

Only 1% of head injuries occur on bikes, while 48% occur in cars. But no one suggests helmets for automobile passengers. Or most business employees, for that matter.

Not surprisingly, Portland comes out on top in a new ranking of the best cities for bicycling; also not surprising is that LA is nowhere on the list.

My hometown bikes to work at 11 times the national rate. When I last lived there three decades back, it was pretty much just me.

Is anyone really surprised that a Nebraska football star won’t faces charges for stealing not one, not two, but seven bicycles? It’s long past time to stop coddling criminal athletes.

Evanston IL plans to encourage bicycling by banning bikes on some streets. Yeah, that’ll work.

 

International

Protected bike lanes are the best medicine for dangerous Winnipeg roads.

Great Britain honors the cyclists who lost their lives in World War I. That was the war so devastating it was supposed to end all wars. Despite their sacrifice, it didn’t.

Dover police knock a cyclist off his bike when he allegedly failed to respond to commands to dismount, then say he just fell off.

Bradley Wiggins wants to restore your faith in cycling. My faith in cycling is as strong as ever; my faith in pro cyclists, not so much.

IKEA is now offering an e-bike in some Austrian stores; no word on whether you have to build it yourself.

An Aussie writer debunks popular bicycling myths. And says yes, cyclists cause collisions but so does everyone else.

As China continues to re-enter the world, its citizens face the same dangers Westerners do, as a Chinese bike rider is kidnapped by Taliban militants in Pakistan.

 

Finally…

A Cambridge, Massachusetts bike safety campaign uses the local vernacular as it urges riders to Be Wicked Smaaht. And a British driver who killed a teenage passenger in a 130 mph crash — in a 60 mph zone, no less — has his sentence cut in half because he’s sorry. Oh, well okay, then.

 

Bypassing busy traffic on 7th Street, notes from the LAPD bike task force, and Beverly Hills bike lanes redux

When is a bike lane not a bike lane?

When it’s a traffic lane allowing impatient drivers to bypass backed-up traffic for a whole block, shaving maybe a few seconds off the evening commute.

……….

A few notes from last week’s meeting with the LAPD’s bike liaisons.

First off, Sgt. Lazlo Sandor has taken over as bike liaison for the West Traffic Division; you’ll find his email address on the Resources page.

As part of Chief Beck’s proclamation that this will be the year of traffic enforcement, the LAPD has transferred a number of officers to work the city’s four traffic divisions. The good news is, the city is now focused on cracking down on dangerous drivers — like the one in the video above, for instance. The bad news is, bike violations are considered traffic offenses as well, so be forewarned.

One of the biggest problems in fixing traffic problems has long been that no one has been tracking bicycling and pedestrians collisions, injuries and fatalities. Which meant no one had a clue just what and where those problems might be, let alone how to solve them. Fortunately, the LAPD is now keeping track of all of the above as part of their Compstat program, requiring traffic officers to appear four times a year to discuss problems in their areas. And the department is tracking the most dangerous intersections for all road users to determine what has to be done to improve safety for everyone.

Last week’s story that Houston police officers were conducting traffic stings to improve safety for the city’s cyclists made news around the world. Which may have come as a surprise to LA officers, who have been doing the same thing for some time without public notice. In fact, LA’s West Traffic Division has conducted nine such stings since the first of the year — eight to enforce bike lane issues and one for stop sign enforcement. A total of 53 people were cited, including both cyclists and drivers; LAPD policy does not allow for selective enforcement, so they’re required to write up any violations they see during a sting, regardless of who commits it.

Finally, they stressed the importance of getting permits in advance for events that will require police participation. When the recent Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race was cancelled at the last minute, the department cancelled the officers who had been scheduled to work the event. Then when it was rescheduled at the last minute as a ride, they had to scramble to get enough officers to work the event on such short notice, and ended up paying out over $10,000 in overtime. While they understood the situation with the Marathon Crash, they ask for a minimum of 28 days advance notice to avoid any issues if you’re planning some sort of event.

On the other hand, if you break the law, they’re happy to show up with little or no notice.

……….

The subject of bike lanes on Santa Monica Blvd through Beverly Hills is back on the council agenda this Tuesday. Except they’re not, but maybe they are. It’s a complicated subject explained well by Better Bike.

Meanwhile, a Beverly Hills homeowner’s association offers their reasons why bike lanes are a bad idea, few if any of which actually hold water.

For instance, someone should tell them that California law requires that drivers merge into bike lanes before making right turns, rather than turning across the lane as they suggest (#2). And surprisingly, blind spots exist on motor vehicles, which can hide the presence of bikes from careless drivers like themselves, whether or not bike lanes exist.

……….

Finally, this just in as a friend of mine reports an assault while riding home on PCH in Orange County.

I was riding on the super dark stretch of PCH between the oilfield and 10,000 miles of ocean. An empty car was stopped, no blinkers, on the shoulder. With cars coming up behind me at 60mph, the only option is to stop and wait for them to pass, or hike over the shrubs on the slope to the right of the (red) curb.

I take a picture of the car, and an angry guy kicks the driver’s side door open, emerges, and comes at me barking, “What the fuck are you doing?”

I dismount in case I have to run for it and start backing away while he repeatedly demands the camera, which he ain’t gonna get.

Long story short, he ends up throwing me, my bike & my bag (containing the Coolpix he was so interested in, plus my MacBook Air & iPad) into the ice plant.

I’m not injured, but my glasses are still out there because I gave up looking for them when the damn sprinklers came on. Also, I called Hunny PD back, and arranged them to just meet me at work for the report. The officer arrived before me AND TOLD MY COWORKER I HAD BEEN HIT BY A CAR. Boy, was she relieved when I grumped up my boss’s porch stairs with bike on shoulder & no visible injuries.

Lesson: Assume even parked cars are full of ex-convicts who will be violently angry with you for nothing.

I’m scared to check my MacBook.

Beverly Hills tells bicyclists to drop dead; LAPD to focus — finally — on traffic violations this year

Screw bike riders.

That was the message sent last night by notoriously bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills in refusing to incorporate bike lanes in next year’s planned reconstruction of Santa Monica Blvd.

Even though the reconstruction gives the city a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fix one of the region’s most congested and dysfunctionally incomplete streets.

And even though it could be done for pennies on the dollar during the massive reconstruction project.

And even though it would connect the bike lanes that currently exist on the boulevard on either side of the city, completing the gap that exists between bike lanes in West Hollywood and Century City.

And even though Beverly Hills traffic already makes it the most dangerous city of its size in the state of California.

Oddly, several of the city’s council members expressed their concern for the safety of cyclists before voting to ignore their needs.

We’ll let Better Bike’s Mark Elliot, who led the seemingly Sisyphean fight in this over-privileged Mayberry tell the whole disturbing and dystopian tale.

The question is, what can we do going forward?

Personally, I think it’s long past time for a worldwide boycott of the Biking Black Hole, where the dollars of those on bikes seem to be valued far below those who arrive in Bentleys and luxury SUVs.

Maybe they’ll wake up if they start seeing hotel cancellations, as domestic and foreign bike riders choose to spend their money somewhere else. Or when the annual Gran Fondo gets moved to out of Beverly Hills because cyclists refuse to support a city that refuses to support us.

Or maybe the answer is to take a page from their own playbook, where seemingly endless lawsuits have attempted to derail the planned subway-sort-of-to-the-sea.

I don’t know if there are legal grounds to sue Beverly Hills for its hard-hearted failure to find room for bike riders on the rebuilt street, even if it does seem to conflict with the state’s requirement to consider complete streets in any road construction project. Or to accommodate all road users on streets that belong to more than just motor vehicle operators.

Maybe there’s a lawyer out there who’d like answer those questions.

But if nothing else, a lawsuit might delay their plans just enough to make it easier to compromise with bike supporters than fight.

It wouldn’t be cheap.

But that’s one Kickstarter I’d be happy to contribute to.

……….

More on last night’s breaking news that the extremely popular Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race has been cancelled, at least for this year.

And the way these things seem to go, possibly forever.

The finger is being pointed at a fear of liability in a notoriously risk-averse city. But as noted last night, I suspect there’s more going on behind the scenes than we may yet be aware of.

Like maybe a wealthy marathon operator upset about those damn bikes piggybacking on their event. Especially when they’re not getting the profits.

Meanwhile, word is some riders intend to crash the route anyway.

……….

The LA City Council celebrated the city’s first Complete Streets Day on Wednesday.

Which seems odd, since so many council members seem to be actively opposing complete streets on Westwood Blvd, north and south Figueroa, and Lankershim Blvd, as well as a new and improved bike-friendly 4th Street.

I’m sure Councilmembers Koretz, Cedillo, Price and LaBonge wholeheartedly support complete streets.

As long as they’re in someone else’s district.

……….

For years, bike and pedestrian advocates have called on police to increase enforcement of traffic laws in an attempt to rein in the wild west mentality on our streets, where too many drivers feel entitled to do anything they damn well please — too often to the detriment of those they share those streets with.

Finally, LAPD Chief Beck is in agreement, declaring this the “year of traffic” with stepped-up enforcement of traffic regulations, including a crackdown on hit-and-runs.

While that’s good news for cyclists who have share the road with dangerous drivers, remember the knife cuts both ways.

Representatives of the department have often said they are required to enforce the law equally. Which means if they see you go through a red light or stop sign, you’re likely to get a ticket, just like a driver would for the same offense.

……….

Writing for Flying Pigeon, Rick Risemberg fears support for bicycling is backsliding under the Garcetti administration — echoing exactly what I’ve been thinking for the past several months.

Shockingly, the Weekly discovers a group of cyclists who like to get high and ride. Who could have ever imagined?

Bike safety is an issue around USC, as a cyclist is injured in a collision near campus.

Bikable streets spread further east as Pomona approves the city’s first bike and pedestrian plan.

The 84-year old Newport Beach driver who killed cyclist Debra Deem — claiming he just didn’t see her — entered a not guilty plea to a single count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. If convicted, he faces just one year in jail; Deem’s sister doesn’t think that’s enough.

Plans call for extending an Orange County protected bikeway.

You can contribute to help Riverside cyclist Travis Freeman recover from a serious cycling injury.

This simple bar chart clearly illustrates the relative affordability of protected bike lanes. And as long as we’re talking charts, this one from the UK kind of puts the relative risk posed by cyclists in perspective.

You could own Pee-wee’s bike, some assembly required.

It’s sad to think a bike advocacy group is going out of business after 40 years when bicycling is finally on the rise.

In what seems like at least a minor miracle, Brooklyn police begin ticketing drivers who park in bike lanes.

A Florida man waves at a motorist, who responds by plowing into him and fleeing the scene.

In what may be one of the most intentionally offensive public safety spots I’ve seen, Britain’s Top Gear attempts to teach cyclists the difference between red and green. While we all need to observe traffic signals, very few cycling fatalities are the result of riders blowing through red lights; far more often, it’s a driver who fails to stop and kills an innocent victim. So for the boys at Top Gear — and I say this from the bottom of my heart — fuck you. No, seriously.

A UK bike rider is the victim of an anti-bike terrorist attack when someone strings a rope across a walkway at neck level. Oddly, despite Top Gear’s insistence, there is nothing to suggest that she ran a red light before nearly being decapitated.

Finally, South African cyclists face charges in the road rage attack against a van driver. No matter how angry you are or how justified you feel, always — always — resist the temptation to resort to violence, as hard as it may be sometimes.

Which is not to say I’m an angel; I’ve called drivers every name in the book, including some I’ve made up on the spot.

Then again, they aren’t always the problem.

One last chance to fight for Santa Monica bike lanes in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills

Please forgive the short notice; I’ve been a little under the weather today.

Okay, maybe a lot.

But there’s a meeting tonight that could make a huge difference for the safety of cyclists forced to ride through decidedly bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills. As well as encouraging more people to take to bikes and relieve the near 24/7 traffic congestion through the city.

If city officials actually care enough to listen, that is.

Tonight is the final meeting of the Santa Monica Boulevard Blue-Ribbon Committee, formed to weigh public input before making a recommendation on how to proceed with the planned reconstruction of the former famed Route 66 through the city. Including proposals for bike lanes, which have bizarrely been placed in opposition to a planted center median.

Even though, as Better Bike’s Mark Elliot makes clear, the roadway could easily accommodate both.

The inexplicable opposition to bike lanes was made clear when the consultant hired by the city dropped an unexpected “preferred option” that included widening the roadway to include a center divider and an ultra-wide 16″ right lane.

But no bike lanes, even though they could easily fit within the widened street.

As Elliot explains, that appears to be intentional. The design, an effort to discourage riders on the newly designed street by preventing them from legally taking the lane. And the timing, an effort to short circuit the public process and jam through a design that maintains automotive hegemony on a street that belongs to everyone.

Keeping bikes from besmirching their precious little enclave of the overly entitled.

So let’s make no mistake.

Bikes — and pedestrians — can easily be accommodated in the reconstructed roadway at little additional cost, providing a street that benefits everyone, safely and efficiently. And connects with bike lanes in Century City to the west and West Hollywood to the east to create a complete bikeway through most of the Westside.

The alternative is a short-sighted decision that discourages bike riding at a time when it is rapidly growing in popularity, and when alternatives to automotive transportation are desperately needed.

Especially in traffic-choked Beverly Hills.

They can make room for bikes, and take a modest step in improving the situation. Or be cursed by future leaders and city residents who will have no choice but pay the high price to correct their error at a later date.

And failure to include bikes on the street would only invite the sort of lawsuits city leaders have used themselves to fight other projects, including the planned Subway to the Sea. Particularly when it flies in the face California’s Complete Streets policies, as well as such overwhelming public support.

The meeting takes place this evening starting at 6 pm at Beverly Hills City Hall. Be there if you can, or fill out the online comment form.

As for me, I’ll be home nursing sick head.

But I plan to be at the Beverly Hills City Council session next month when the city formally decides on how to move forward. And whether to slide back into the Biking Black Hole they’ve only begun to tentatively step out of.

……..

Speaking of Elliot, thanks for his recent call for donations to help support my work here at BikinginLA, among other deserving organizations. With the redesign of this site and the move to an advertising and sponsor-supported model taking much longer than anticipated, I can use all the help I can get.

If you do make a contribution based on his recommendation, consider giving part of it to support Better Bike. Mark Elliot has been relentless in fighting for your right to ride in a city that has been far less than welcoming to us.

Update: Thanks to Vanessa Gray and Danila Oder for the generous donations.

Breaking news: bike lanes come to Beverly Hills

Looking east from just past Rexford Drive

Looking east from just past Rexford Drive

Okay, so it wasn’t a total surprise.

Recent news reports had indicated Beverly Hills would be installing their first bike lanes over the next week or so.

So when I saw temporary no parkings signs on Burton Way on my way to CicLAvia on Sunday, I assumed something was in the works.

Since a meeting of the LACBC’s Civic Engagement committee meant I had to ride through Beverly Hills on my way to Downtown LA Tuesday evening, I made a point of taking Burton Way just to check it out.

And sure enough, as soon as I passed Rexford Drive, after surviving the relative terror that is Little Santa Monica at rush hour, there it was. A sparking, capacious new bike lane — so new, in fact, that other riders were taking to the sidewalk in apparent disbelief of what was right there on the street in front of them.

And who could blame them?

Beverly Hills had long earned its moniker as the Biking Black Hole for being the only city in the area without a single inch of bikeway.

Until today.

Maybe we should call them the Biking Grey Hole now. Especially since the new lanes, along with bike lanes and sharrows due to go in on Crescent Drive, are only being installed on a one-year trial basis.

Still, the lanes felt good, more than wide enough to ride two abreast. And the eastbound lanes connected with the lanes on the Los Angeles section of the street, allowing a smooth, comfortable ride from Rexford to San Vicente.

With the slight downhill, I found myself easily riding at 29 mph; previously, I would have held my speed down for fear of traffic conflicts.

Although I might question the placement of sharrows where the bike lanes end to allow right turn lanes on some of the major streets. While they are placed according to standards in the center of the right through lane, few cyclists are likely to ride there, as there is more than enough room to ride next to vehicular traffic in the few feet before the traffic light.

Looking back at Beverly Hills City Hall, which suddenly looks just a little bike-friendlier.

Looking back at Beverly Hills City Hall, which suddenly looks just a little bike-friendlier.

At least, that’s where I rode, since stopped traffic blocked access to the center of the lane, anyway.

On the ride home, the westbound lanes skipped a block between where the L.A. lanes end just at Doheny, and the Beverly Hills lanes picked up a block later.

After all this time, it seems like a minor miracle that Beverly Hills finally has bike lanes. And maybe a warning sign of the apocalypse.

And of course, they installed bike lanes on one of the streets in Beverly Hills that doesn’t need them, since it was more than wide enough to ride outside of the traffic lane as it was.

But still. They’re actually here.

We all owe a round of thanks to Mark Elliot of Better Bike, who has been leading an almost single-handed, and finally successful. fight for cyclists in the Biking Grey Hole.

Which could take a little getting used to.

Breaking news: Cyclist attacked in Beverly Hills road rage assault; rider not seriously injured

More bad news from the Biking Black Hole.

News is just breaking that a bike rider was deliberately attacked with a motor vehicle after the rider hit the driver in a road rage dispute.

According to the Beverly Hills Police, the incident occurred nearly three weeks ago, around 6 pm on Wednesday, April 3rd.

Evidently, they don’t feel an urgent need to keep the public informed of violent crime on their streets. Let alone for the prompt release of information that might lead to the arrest of a dangerous suspect.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, reportedly punched the driver of a white, possibly 2008 model year BMW 328i in the face. The motorist threatened to kill the rider, and followed him into an alley in the 9000 block of Wilshire Blvd, between Wetherly and Almont Drives; a Google satellite view shows alleys on both sides of the street behind the buildings facing Wilshire.

The driver then intentionally rammed the cyclist with his car, pinning him against a metal trash bin. Fortunately, the rider was not seriously injured; the fact that the trash bin was on rollers may have lessened the force of the impact.

The assault was captured on security footage; the attacker can clearly be seen reversing course in the alley and striking the victim, who clings to the mirror of the car as it backs away. Once he’s thrown off, he walks back to collect his bike.

There’s no word from the police on what caused the dispute.

Yes, the rider broke the law in striking the driver, regardless of what led up to it. It’s possible that he could face criminal or civil charges for assaulting the driver unless it can be shown that he hit him in self-defense; however, that requires that the action is necessary to halt a current or imminent physical attack.

The far more serious crime, though, is the motorist using his vehicle in a deliberate attempt to injure or kill the rider after the initial incident had concluded. It should be no different under the law than someone who gets into a fight in a bar, then goes out to the parking lot and shoots the person he’d argued with.

This is a clear case of assault with a deadly weapon. Any claim the driver may have had to self-defense ended the moment the cyclist initially rode away.

The suspect is described as a Middle Eastern or White male in his mid-30s, with dark hair and eyes, and a thin build; the Beverly Hills Courier has a somewhat sketchy sketch of the suspect. The car suffered possible minor front-end damage, although it may have been repaired by now.

Hopefully, the BHPD can overcome the delay in releasing this information and bring a violent criminal to justice.

And take this for fair warning.

As tempting as it may be sometimes to get even with the jackass that just ran you off the road, it’s never a good idea. There are some crazyass, and potentially very violent, people out there.

And it doesn’t take much to set them off.

What the f*** is wrong with Beverly Hills??????

Excuse me if I’m a little livid.

Okay, mad as hell, to the point that my head may explode.

Because once again, a story has surfaced of a cyclist seriously injured on the streets of Beverly Hills. And once again, the local gendarmerie is either incompetent, or just doesn’t give a damn about a bike rider bleeding on their streets as a heartless motorist just drives away.

It’s an all-too-common complaint I’ve heard from far too many bike riders. They get hit by a car in the Biking Black Hole, and there’s little or no follow-up by the Beverly Hills police.

And as a result, little or no justice.

The latest case comes courtesy of L.A. Streetsblog, as they follow-up with Paul Livingston, a rider so critically injured in a hit-and-run that he’s able to walk only through the miracle of modern medicine.

Let alone still alive.

The last thing Paul remembers that day is being put on a stretcher before he woke up in a hospital bed six days later. He suffered spinal and pelvic fractures. His pelvic bone, broken in half and pushed upwards into his bladder had severed blood vessels causing him to bleed internally. When he was first admitted to the hospital he was hypotensive, which means his organs were shutting down with the lack of blood and his body was going into shock. Paul underwent three abdominal surgeries within the first two days just to stop the bleeding. On the fourth day, the doctors were able to fix his pelvis and then he went through spine surgery only to have pelvic surgery once again to get it back to its original position. Paul also suffered from post-operative infection from the abdominal surgeries. Finally, with his fever gone, he was healthy enough to have his spinal fusion – as a result, Paul is a bit shorter now.

You’d think that any competent police agency would conduct a thorough investigation of such a serious felony, and do everything necessary to bring the near-killer driver to justice.

You’d think.

I ask him about the person who hit him, self-identified as Victoria Chin. He tells me that during the time of his recuperation, he had been in touch with the Beverly Hills Police Department to find out what was going on with the woman who hit him and then ran. Apparently, they were dropping the ball on his case as they never even processed her car for evidence. And her explanation for not stopping, as given to the BHPD, “There was no place to park.”

The technical loophole that Victoria Chin falls into is that no one could properly identify her even though the day after the collision she called the BHPD herself. The police officer she spoke to said she had to come in to the police station to turn herself in. She then called back saying she would be in tomorrow. The police officer reminded her to bring her car in for processing. The next day, Chin showed up without her car and with a lawyer. She only admitted to being Victoria Chin refusing to say anything else. Her lawyer asked the police officer if they were going to book his client. BHPD said no. So, the lawyer asked if they were going to arrest his client. BHPD said no.

They let Victoria Chin go. No arrest. No charges.

It’s far from the first time something similar has happened.

Beverly Hills police and courts have repeatedly dropped the ball on cases involving cyclists. And while they have responded to pressure from riders, it shouldn’t be up to us to force them to do their damn jobs.

Now don’t get me wrong.

I’m not anti-police.

In fact, I have a great deal of respect for most cops, and have often been impressed with the responsiveness of the LAPD when I’ve dealt with them on various issues. While there are always a few bad apples, I’ve found overwhelming majority of officers are caring and committed to doing their best to protect the public and bring justice to those who have been wronged.

With the obvious exception of the NYPD, who the Beverly Hills police are evidently trying to emulate in their lack of responsiveness in incidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians.

But there is simply no excuse for any department dropping the ball so badly in so many cases where bike riders are run down on their streets. And given that it happens so often, the question arises whether it’s the fault of a few incompetent cops, or if there is a willful, systemic bike-blindness within the department that emanates from the top down.

It’s not a question I can answer right now.

Fortunately, charges were finally filed in the Livingston case, despite the failure of the department to conduct the most basic investigation.

In late august 2012, over a year after the crime, Don Ward wrote about the crash here at Streetsblog and elsewhere informing people about Paul’s situation and called on the cycling community to join them at the Beverly Hills City Council Meeting to draw attention to his case.

For a moment, Paul pauses his story, speechless, he swallows and then tells me that four months later, after the public outcry and the persistency of his lawyer, Otto Haselhoff, the DA of Beverly Hills is finally pressing charges. The helplessness that Paul describes to me, all his suffering, mental and physical anguish, had begun to lift. He quit drinking, started jogging, he was able sleep through the night.

“Knowing that something can be done, that there will be some kind of justice, this changed my life.”

Maybe so.

It’s long past time for Beverly Hills Police Chief David Snowden and new Mayor John Mirisch to meet with bicyclists to find some solutions to the dangers we face on their streets. And the apparent lack of support we get from the police.

In the meantime, I will continue to avoid Beverly Hills as much as possible. Not just because of their failure to provide a single inch of bikeway anywhere in the city.

But because I don’t trust the police to give a damn conduct a thorough and honest investigation if I end up bleeding on their streets.

The Biking Black Hole can’t get it right; no justice in Texas, and road rage is all the rage these days

A little news and a whole lot of links to wrap up the week.

………

Police in the Biking Black Hole of Beverly Hills offer safety tips for cyclists, but can’t manage to get it quite right.

Bike riders are required to ride as close to the right as practicable, not as far right as possible, as they state. There’s a big difference, which any police officer should understand.

And which is scary as hell when they don’t.

Riding as far to the right as possible puts riders in the gutter and door zones, and gives police an excuse to ticket anyone with the audacity to take the lane. Riding as far right as practicable keeps cyclists out of the way of swinging doors and broken glass, and allows them to legally ride in the center of non-sharable lanes.

Which is basically the difference between being bike friendly and observing the law, and making sure riders know they aren’t welcome in your city.

Meanwhile, the city considers adding an handful of bike racks, but banning locking bikes to virtually anything else.

In other words, once again appearing to support cycling while actively discouraging it.

………

Amazingly, the Texas driver who ran down tandem cyclists Greg and Alexanda Bruehler in 2009 — resulting in the single saddest photo I’ve ever seen — has been acquitted in their deaths.

Clearly, there is no justice for cyclists in the state of Texas.

The driver was doing 79 in a 65 mph zone when he failed to see the riders wearing hi-viz vests, and drifted off the roadway onto the shoulder where they were riding. The defense won the case by arguing that anyone could have could have made the same mistake.

The scary thing is, they’re right.

Even scarier is no one really seems to care. Not even a jury.

………

There’s been a horrifying number of road rage and traffic violence stories in the news the past few days.

For instance, a Massachusetts driver punches a cyclist in the face after the rider’s bike falls over and scratches his car. Local police don’t get it when a Mass cyclist is deliberately doored. A Pittsburgh cyclist is chased up a flight of stairs, stabbed and cut from ear to ear in a brutal road rage assault. A Texas mixed martial arts fighter has been charged with the shooting death of a cyclist after they apparently argued last year; even in Texas, shooting someone because you feel disrespected is a rather extreme response. A former Florida police officer threatens two cyclists with a knife when one flips him off after he threw something at the riders. A Hamilton Ontario cyclist is beaten by a pickup driver after being yelled at, then grazed by the truck’s mirror. A road-raging Toronto cab driver faces up to five years in prison for backing into a cyclist following a dispute, causing the rider to lose a leg. A UK car passenger is sentenced to three years for jumping out of the car and beating a cyclist to a bloody pulp.

Proving it’s not just drivers, police find their suspect in a methadone clinic after a drunken Colorado cyclist pulls a knife on a driver. A Massachusetts cyclist bends a car’s antenna after an argument with a driver. A New York mob trashes a car after a collision with a cyclist during the Fashion’s Night Out celebration. A 16-year old cyclist breaks into a couple’s home after an argument over an open car door. And closer to home, the OC Weekly’s food writer gets into a little bike on bike action; thanks to David Bain for the heads-up.

So let me offer a little advice.

Having been the victim of a road rage assault, I would much rather get off my bike and let the jackass pass than have an angry, potentially violent, driver behind me.

And no matter how much you think the other party deserves it, violence is never justified — it’s far more likely to jeopardize your own life and freedom than teach the other person a damn thing.

One more bit of hard-earned advice.

Never flip off the driver behind you.

Trust me. I’ve learned the hard way that cars are bigger than me, and they hurt.

………

Some idiot jackass stole the bike Jerico Culata was riding as he lay dying on last week’s Critical Mass ride; there’s not a pit in hell deep enough for someone like that. Formerly bike-unfriendly Malibu has come a long way, now launching an interactive website to explore improving safety on PCH — for bicyclists and everyone else. The city will also be conducting public hearings on the subject the next four Thursdays. Rapper The Game comes to the rescue of a cyclist who was unresponsive after a crash with his bike on top of him — the cyclist, not The Game — no word on how the rider got that way. LADOT introduces new street signs for Bike Friendly Streets. A Sierra Madre driver sees a girl riding her bike, but steps on the gas instead of the brakes; local police say “oops.”

Bike Lawyer Bob Mionske looks at California’s recently passed three-foot passing law and CEQA exemption for bike lanes. San Clemente gets over $1 million in grants for bike and pedestrian projects. NPR looks at charges that Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital sent jobs from Santa Ana-based GT Bicycles overseas; seems like there’s some truth on both sides. San Diego plans to encourage cycling in the “fun” communities. A San Diego cyclist suffers major leg injuries in a crash with a delivery truck. A North San Diego County writer asks who owns the roads, and correctly concludes we all do. An 18-year old salmon cyclist is seriously injured in a Temecula left cross collision. A bike rider in Perris suffers major injuries in a collision with a minivan on a street that somehow seems to simultaneously run both south and west. Rancho Mirage tells cyclists to walk their bikes on the sidewalk across a bridge — even though it has a bike lane. Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious is run off the bike path by an overly aggressive rider. A Modesto cyclist is killed after both he and the driver who hit him run a four-way stop; guess which one will probably get the blame? San Francisco cyclists will get their own lane on The Embarcadero during next month’s America’s Cup races.

People for Bikes looks at biking to school. A cyclist watches an idiot bike rider from his position behind the wheel; thanks to Jerry Oser for the heads-up. Barbie rides a bike. New foldable bike helmet fits odd shaped heads. Suffering the emotional scars of urban cycling. A Portland man moves forward with a statewide initiative requiring bike license plates and licenses for bike riders. An Albuquerque court imposes the maximum sentence on a drugged driver who killed the bike riding manager of the local REI. The 13-year old Milwaukee girl who laughed about it after killing a cyclist while street racing in a stolen car has been ordered into mental health treatment; well no shit. Ohio suffers three cycling fatalities in one week. An Atlantic City cyclist is killed when he’s caught in the crossfire in a gunfight. An Alabama driver won’t be cited after colliding with a cyclist who was riding on the sidewalks illegally. Long Beach’s bicycling expats, now Portland residents, visit our buddy Zeke in North Carolina. A Florida driver with drugs in her system receives the maximum sentence for killing a cyclist — a six-month suspension of her drivers license; no wonder the Sunshine State leads the nation in bike and pedestrian deaths.

A Toronto writer is taken down by streetcar tracks while trying to maneuver around a truck blocking the right lane. A London magazine editor apologizes after writing that “the only good cyclist is a dead cyclist,” noting that he was merely being ironic with his heartfelt wishes that you and I would just die and get it over with. London considers, probably not seriously, a multi-million-pound network of elevated bikeways. UK driving instructors want bicycle awareness to be part of the driving test. Former Formula 1 driver Alex Zanardi wins gold in the Paralympic handcycle time trial 11 years after losing his legs in a horrific crash. Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree cancels his attempt at a record setting 100 mph bike ride, saying his ride isn’t ready yet. An 11-year old French boy finds a brake lever imbedded in his thigh months after a bike crash; even my stomach turned a little writing that one. One of the better Vueltas in years is slowly coming to a conclusion, as Contador holds a seemingly comfortable lead after bouncing back from a drug scandal that stripped him of his 2010 Tour de France victory; maybe current and former dopers should form their own bike racing league so they can take whatever the hell they want and not have to worry about getting caught.

Finally, a UK cyclist apparently accomplishes the rather remarkable feat of rounding a corner on the sidewalk at 20 mph; even more remarkable is the arthritic pensioner who claims he managed to stop the speeding rider merely by putting his arms out.

Superman ain’t got nothing on him.

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