Tag Archive for three-foot passing laws

Morning Links: Sad Fiesta Island news, for and against the 3-foot law, and a new reflector could stop cars sooner

We have a lot to catch up on after yesterday’s unexcused absence,* so let’s get to it.

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Bad news from San Diego. The wife of the cyclist critically injured by an allegedly drunk and/or high wrong way driver on Fiesta Island says he’s on a breathing machine and fighting for his life; if he survives, he’ll be paralyzed from the waist down.

Sounds like prayers or good wishes are in order, whichever you’re comfortable with.

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The family of fallen randonneur Matthew O’Neill encourages drivers to observe the new three-foot passing law and change lanes to pass a cyclist.

Meanwhile, a website uses video from the Rock Store climb, aka The Snake, to suggest the three-foot law will make driving impossible, even though passing at an unsafe distance has always been illegal; the only thing this law changes is specifying just what a minimum safe distance is. And the rider in question is legally taking the lane on what is clearly a substandard lane.

Bottom line, as a side-by-side comparison of these two stories make clear, observing the three-foot law is a question of safety — that is, someone’s life — versus a minor inconvenience to impatient motorists.

I know which side I fall on.

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This could be a big step forward in bike safety, as a new reflector tricks the Crash Avoidance System found in many new cars into seeing a cyclist or pedestrian as being closer or larger than they really are. The makers are looking for a strategic partner to help bring it to the right markets; this could be a great investment for someone with the right knowledge.

And yes, I want one. Now.

Thanks to new ROAD Magazine editor Chris Klibowitz for the heads-up.

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Time to loosen up those wallets. The Kickstarter for BikinginLA sponsor AnyKicks has just over $18,000 to raise with two weeks to go.

Let’s push ‘em over the top and show bike shops and manufacturers that advertising on here really works. And fund a deserving project while we’re at it.

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Evidently, the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree, either. The father of the teenage driver who got off using the affluenza defense was arrested last month for impersonating a police officer.

If you’ll recall, his 16-year old spawn got away with killing four people in an under-aged drunken crash when the judge agreed his parents were too rich for him to be expected to take responsibility for his own actions.

Thanks to the Witch on a Bicycle for the link.

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Elia Viviani wins the fourth stage of the USA Pro Challenge after retiring rider Jens Voigt fades after a 40 km solo breakaway; that other famous bike rider from my hometown keeps the leader’s jersey.

Is it just me, or is there less interest in the Pro Challenge this year? There seems to be a lot less press coverage this time around. Except for the drunk driver who somehow made it onto the closed course.

Italy’s economic woes lead to the merger of the Cannondale/Liquigas and Slipstream teams. And Vavel previews the first seven stages of the Vuelta, along with the seven that follow.

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Local

Boyle Heights residents worry the new Eastside extension of the Downtown CicLAvia route will lead to increased gentrification, while LA’s incredibly popular open streets event officially comes to the San Fernando Valley next March.

A ride marshal is ticketed — and may have been intentionally doored by police — for running a red light on the Clitoral Mass ride.

The LA Times looks at the new Timbuk2 store on Abbot Kinney in Venice.

Sweet Ride USA invites you to explore the intersection of bikes and sweets in Little Tokyo this Saturday. The Santa Monica Museum of Arts’ Tour Da Arts rolls on Sunday, as does the LACBC’s Sunday Funday ride through Carson.

A chef famed around the world for his cuisine and temper gets his new bike on at Cynergy.

The bike friendly Fiesta La Ballona takes place in Culver City this weekend.

LACBC local chapter Bike Walk Glendale sponsors Operation Firefly to give free bike lights to riders without them.

 

State

The state legislature passes a bill allowing local jurisdictions to tack an extra $5 onto vehicle registration fees to fund bicycle infrastructure. But what are the chances of actually getting 2/3 of drivers to tax themselves to fund bike projects?

Laguna Beach votes to explore ways to ease congestion and improve bike and pedestrian access on Laguna Canyon Road.

The Bike League profiles BikeSD’s own Sam Ollinger, who has quickly risen to become one of the leading bike advocates — not women’s bike advocate, thank you — in the US.

An Ohio man pleads no contest in the alleged DUI hit-and-run that took the life of a Chico State cyclist.

The EPA honors a 116-mile bike path from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake; when a new segment opens, it will be 75% complete.

 

National

CNN asks if Lance’s lies and bullying can be forgiven. The former, maybe; the latter, not so much.

Protected bike lanes are rapidly spreading throughout the US.

Our own Boyonabike looks at riding in bike friendly Portlandia.

Life is cheap in Utah, when not even killing a bike riding judge while driving distracted is enough to get authorities to take traffic crime seriously, as the driver gets off with a lousy $670 fine and six months probation.

Seventy-year old basketball great Rick Barry is slowly recovering from a bad solo bike crash in Colorado.

University of Chicago Hospitals illegally applies stickers to discourage legal bike parking.

A New York cyclist is fined $675 and loses her drivers license for running a red light on her bike and not having a bell — $5 more than some states fine drivers for killing someone.

The Washington Post asks if bike riders should be allowed to roll stop signs. The obvious answer is yes, but good luck convincing most motorists. And voters.

 

International

A writer for the Vancouver Sun says bike lanes will do more to protect cyclists than helmets.

Toronto authorities exonerate a local police department on accusations that they whitewashed a case involving the wife of an officer who killed a cyclist. Even though they failed to test the driver for drugs or alcohol and allowed her to drive home while the investigation at the scene was still ongoing.

Northern Ireland plans a two week bicycling festival.

Caught on video: An Edinburgh cyclist learns first hand the dangers of getting a wheel caught in tram tacks.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: Sometimes it’s the other riders you have to watch out for. It doesn’t even take a whole car to send a cyclist to the hospital; sometimes, a stray part is enough.

And Gizmodo looks at seven bikes that, thankfully, didn’t change bicycling forever.

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*My apologies for missing yesterday’s post, as well as a few others in recent weeks. I try to post every weekday; however, while my diabetes is officially under control, I’m still having major health problems that may or may not be related, and which leave me largely incapacitated for much of the day — and have kept me off my bike for the better part of two months. Most days, I’m able to rally long enough to get a new post online, but others — like yesterday — find me down for the count.

Hopefully, my doctors will finally figure out what’s going on, and this too shall pass.

 

For once, California cyclists don’t get Jerry Browned. And finally get a three-foot passing law.

Yes, we won.

But just what did we win?

Monday afternoon, Governor Jerry Brown announced that he’d signed AB 1371, the Three Feet for Safety Act, after vetoing similar three-foot passing laws in each of the last two years.

So we should be happy, right?

Yes.

Sort of.

For the first time, California drivers will have a clearly defined passing distance, rather than the current requirement that they pass at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the bicycle being overtaken. Which in the real world, too often passes for anything that doesn’t actually result in contact with the rider.

No, really.

More than once I’ve caught up with a driver who buzzed me at a dangerously close distance. And the response has been a sarcastic “Well, I didn’t hit you, did I?”

Well, no.

Just scared the crap out of me, taking all my self-control not to overreact and swerve into the passing car or some other object. Not to mention risking getting sucked into the side of a larger vehicle by its slipstream.

Sort of like the school bus that passed me at speed at less than an arm’s length distance on San Vicente Monday afternoon. Or maybe this pass by a Big Blue Bus that barely did.

Pass, that is.

And I’m still waiting for someone, anyone, at the Santa Monica bus company to give enough of a damn to call me back.

Now drivers will know anything less than three feet is too damn close.

Though some would question that.

Some lawmakers who opposed the bill, such as Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said it would be difficult to estimate a 3-foot distance while driving, especially when cyclists also might be swerving to avoid road hazards.

That’s kind of the point, though. We need that three feet of space so we can swerve to avoid road hazards without plowing into the vehicle next to us.

Anyone convicted of violating the law will face a $35 base fine, plus fees that will take it up to $233, or a $220 base fine if a collision resulting in injuries to the rider occurs.

The problem is, unless a driver actually does make contact with a cyclist, the law is virtually unenforceable.

The bill includes a provision allowing drivers to pass at less than three-feet if they slow down and pass only when it won’t endanger a cyclist’s safety.

In other words, the same sort of vague, virtually unenforceable standard we have now.

Still, it’s worth celebrating simply because we’ve joined the other 22 states and the District of Columbia with a clearly defined standard. And unlike last year’s bill, this one applies whether you’re in the same lane as the vehicle passing you or in a separate bike lane or parking lane.

Which should help stop those drivers who buzz you with two wheels on, or in, the bike lane while you’re riding in it.

Key word being should.

So let’s give credit to former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for pushing for a third attempt to pass this bill. And Gardena Assemblymember Steven Bradford for shepherding this law through the legislature, even if it was severely watered down from the brilliantly written bill he originally proposed.

Including removal of the much-needed provision allowing drivers to briefly cross the center line in order to safely pass cyclists with a minimum three-foot distance. In other words, legalizing exactly what many drivers already do, despite the fears our governor expressed in vetoing last year’s bill.

Like Glendale’s Mike Gatto, who took on the successful fight to extend the statute of limitations in hit-and-run cases, Bradford has shown himself as a skilled legislator willing to go to the mat for bicyclists. Both deserve our support, and will be worth watching — and working with — as we go forward.

We should also thank the strange mix of supporters who backed the bill, from Calbike and CABO, to traditionally bike-unfriendly AAA, which helped kill the last two bills.

And we owe a begrudging round of thanks to Jerry Brown for not going down in history as the only governor to strike out when it comes to bike safety legislation; it’s enough that he’ll be remembered by bike riders for being the only governor, besides Rick Perry of Texas, to veto a three-foot passing law once, let alone twice.

As the bill’s author put it,

“I sincerely thank the Governor for signing this commonsense measure to protect cyclists on our roads,” Bradford said. “When cars and bikes collide, it often turns to tragedy. This bill is a great reminder that we all have to work together to keep our roads safe for all users.”

Which begs the question, do we now stop referring to dangerously close passes as being Jerry Browned? Or is a single signature not enough to overcome the harm he’s already done?

The law takes effect a year from now, on September 16, 2014.

Which means things should start to get a little better then. If we can all survive that long.

And once Brown leaves office, we can work on strengthening the law and giving it some real teeth.

A new LA councilmember develops memory problems; GiveMe3 and hit-and-run bills move forward

Sometimes I have to wonder if politics causes memory problems.

Plans have been under way for the past few years to transform Figueroa Blvd between Downtown and South LA. The four mile My Figueroa project would narrow and remove some mixed-use traffic lanes, along with some parking, in exchange for transit-only lanes and the city’s first protected bike lanes.

However, Streetsblog reports that the conditions of the funding for the project require that construction has to start by the end of this year, and be completed before 2015.

Now newly elected City Councilmember Curren Price may have thrown a wrench in the works by expressing concerns that could kill LA’s first Complete Streets project by delaying it past the required starting point.

According to Downtown News, Price has straddled both sides of the fence, voicing support for the project while expressing concerns at a recent meeting.

“It’s a promising project. Let’s not rush through it. Let’s make it a good deal for everybody,” (Price) said, adding, “Major stakeholders have lingering concerns.”

Those stakeholders reportedly include the often anti-bike AAA, which has its regional headquarters on Figueroa, as well as the owner of eight car dealerships in the area, who evidently doesn’t offer any parking onsite and can’t conceive of anyone biking in and driving out with a new car.

And never mind all those recent studies showing bikes are good for business.

The website also reports that Price filed a motion asking the city Planning Department and LADOT to provide an in-depth analysis of how they plan to mitigate traffic congestion caused by the removal of auto lanes on the street.

Never mind that the street was chosen for the project, in part, because it would not significantly affect traffic flow on the under-utilized corridor. Or that any delay at this point could kill the project.

And never mind that Price, elected to the state Senate just four years ago before leaving for the higher paying city council seat, claimed to be a supporter of bicycling, and, “among other things, the role that it plays in improving air quality, health, traffic congestion and the overall environmental quality of life in the 26th Senate District.”

In a campaign statement for this site before the 2009 election that took him from the state Assembly to the Senate, he wrote:

A lack of investment in mass transit, infrastructure and Class One BikeWays, coupled with the “love affair” that Angelenos have with their cars and a jobs housing imbalance which has residents commuting on average between 15-20 miles roundtrip each day has contributed to the district’s inability to realize higher air quality standards. These reasons, among others, is why transit, transportation and air quality are at the top of my environmental agenda, why I have earned the endorsement of the California League of Conservation Voters and why I will continue to support increased investment in mass transit as well as alternatives such as cycling, full enforcement of the Clean Air Act, incentives for cleaner technologies and penalties for gross polluters.

He went on to add…

Young people who can’t cycle or exercise outdoors are not only likely to have higher rates of asthma and obesity but to underperform in school.

And…

Whether one cycles for business, for pleasure or for the environment, cyclists and, more correctly, support for cyclists plays a crucial role in creating a more livable 26th Senate District. Improvements and expansion of Class One Bikeways via increased public/private partnership funding and incentives for those who build bike-friendly developments supported by ancillary City street improvements are among the priorities I would have in developing a cycling/environmental agenda.

Then he closed, in part, with this:

I grew up riding my bike in the 26th District in South LA, Leimert Park and the Crenshaw District. I did it for pleasure. As state Senator, I would like to support a climate which allows cyclists to choose their own reason and create an environment which makes it possible.

But not as a council member, perhaps.

Maybe it’s just me. But that doesn’t sound like someone who would halt a major project at the last minute in a fight to preserve parking and under-used traffic lanes.

Or has Price forgotten those high-minded ideals now that he’s not running for office and powerful people with deeper pockets are demanding his attention?

Maybe we need to remind him.

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According to Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious, California’s latest attempt at passing a three-foot passing law landed on Governor Brown’s desk Monday afternoon.

I’m told he has 12 days to sign the bill, so we should have an answer — good or bad — by Saturday the 21st. You have less than that to urge him to sign it.

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Legislation to address LA’s hit-and-run epidemic has advanced to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

AB 184, sponsored by Glendale-area Assembly Member Mike Gatto, was originally written to add an additional one year to the statue of limitations after a suspect is identified in hit-and-run cases. However, the law was significantly amended to double the current three-year statute of limitations, instead.

The bill proved remarkably popular, winning final approval by a unanimous vote of both houses. The LA Weekly says Brown will have 10 days to sign the bill if he gets it by Thursday; otherwise, he’ll have until October 13th.

Don’t ask me why.

Meanwhile, Florida cyclists are backing proposed legislation that would impose a minimum three-year sentence for leaving the scene of a collision resulting in injuries.

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Speaking of Florida, sentencing has been delayed in the case of Carlos Bertanotti, the Miami musician who killed a cyclist in a drunken 2010 hit-and-run; he dragged the victim’s bike under his car for over two miles before police stopped him.

Family and friends begged the court to show him mercy; not that he showed his victim any. Bertanotti, with 46 violations on his driving record — although his brother claims 12 of those are actually his — faces between 11.56 and 37 years in prison.

And hopefully, a lifetime ban on driving once he gets out.

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Tuesday was the first day of LA’s 2013 bike and pedestrian count, as volunteers with the LACBC and Los Angeles Walks counted non-motorized travellers during the morning and evening commute times. The count will continue this Saturday to track weekend riders and walkers.

The remarkable thing is that two members of the LA City Council participated in the count along with their staffs; Westside CM Mike Bonin and Valley CM Bob Blumenfield deserve thanks for joining in. Which just goes to show how mainstream bicycling and walking have become when even council members become volunteers.

Maybe there’s hope for this city yet.

Especially if Bonin’s new motion to have the city share such statistics passes the Council.

On the other hand, as great a job as they’ve done, it shouldn’t be up to a pair of non-profit organizations to do the city’s job for it.

New York City can prove the benefits of their efforts to transform the city streets with detailed before and after stats showing traffic, collisions, and injuries or death.

It’s long past time Los Angeles did the same.

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Alan Stephen ghost bike

Alan Stephen ghost bike

A Central Coast driver pleads guilty to vehicular manslaughter and DUI, just nine days after running down two bicyclists in Morro Bay on Memorial Day.

She tried to do the right thing by taking the train back home after a night of drinking. Unfortunately, she still had a BAC of .07 an hour after killing one rider and seriously injuring the other while driving to work at 11 am.

But at least she did the right thing by taking responsibility for her actions. And doing it right away, rather than dragging out the process in order to get a better plea deal.

When was the last time you saw that happen?

Thanks to Patti Andre — who still hasn’t seen justice for the collateral-damage death of her bike riding brother — for the heads-up.

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Virgil Avenue could be the latest Los Angeles Street to get a road diet, complete with five-foot bike lanes and wider, more walkable sidewalks.

And San Marino will discuss that city’s first bike lanes on Wednesday.

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You’re invited to attend next week’s meeting of the Advocacy and Education Subcommittee of the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee, the city’s only official voice for cyclists. The meeting, with a very full agenda, takes place at 7 pm on Wednesday, September 18, at the IMAN Cultural Center, 3376 Motor Ave.

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Streetsblog offers a nice look at the work of HOLA, or Heart of LA, a non-profit bringing youth art to city bus benches.

What the story doesn’t mention, though, is that one of the members of their Board of Directors is Glenn Gritzner, who pleaded no-contest for the hit-and-run collision that left LA bike advocate Don Ward, aka Roadblock, lying injured in the street.

That was the case in which Ward famously tracked down the driver himself when the police were slow to take action.

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Looks like you’re not going to get back that money you spent on Lance Armstrong’s book.

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I’m told that Tuesday was the 130th anniversary of LA’s first organized bike race, as five riders took to a one-mile dirt track on their Penny-farthings in what is now Exposition Park on September 10th, 1883.

Twitter-er Walt Arrrrr kindly forwards photos of a couple of slightly more recent races.

I wonder what they would have thought about last weekend’s Wolfpack Hustle Drag Race?

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Finally, get out that old catcher’s uniform, as Calgary researchers say a mere helmet isn’t protection enough; you now need body armor. And LA’s Fox 11 (KTTV-11) goes trolling for bike hate, asking their Facebook followers what they think about sharing the road with cyclists; thanks to Michael McVerry for the link.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Hell freezes over, as LA is now officially bike-friendly; let’s go for three on the 3-foot passing law

By now, you’ve probably heard what the press conference I cryptically hinted at yesterday was all about.

Not that I didn’t want to tell you.

But when someone swears me to secrecy, I tend to take that seriously.

Especially when the League of American Bicyclists releases their latest list of Bike Friendly Communities. And Los Angeles, shockingly, is on it.

No, seriously.

Councilmember Ed Reyes makes the announcement flanked by members of the L.A. cycling community.

In an announcement that few of us thought we’d ever hear, the bike league named the formerly bike-unfriendly City of Los Angeles one of the nation’s best places to ride a bike.

And the oddest thing is, for once, we actually deserve it.

This award would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. When I started this blog a little over four years ago, which was my introduction to bike advocacy, Los Angeles was a very bike unfriendly city.

There were no sharrows, few bikeways connected to one another, and the only major bike lane built in recent years unceremoniously dumped riders off with no warning in the middle of high-speed Century City traffic, just a few blocks from even more bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills. And we had no voice whatsoever in City Hall or LADOT.

If we can point to any moment when that changed, it’s when a careless cab driver cut off the mayor of this city, leading to a broken arm and his Road to Damascus moment when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa saw the light and became a convert to the cause of safe bicycling in the City of Angels.

Although, to be fair, there were hints of a change in attitude when he publicly mentioned the word “bicycle” for the first time following a trip to Copenhagen a few months earlier, to the shock of just about everyone.

However, that ignores the work of long-time bike advocates like Joe Linton and Stephen Box, just to name a few, as well as the roll of the recently dormant Bikeside and the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee in demanding a better bike plan and a safer riding environment.

Then there’s the work of a revitalized LACBC fighting for justice and better support for L.A. cyclists in City Hall on an almost daily basis.

Not to mention the friendly ear provided by City Council members such as Bill Rosendahl, Eric Garcetti, and Ed Reyes, just to name a few, and the support of LAPD Chief Beck in turning one of the most bike-unfriendly police departments into one of the nation’s most responsive to the needs of bike riders.

Admit it. You never thought you’d see this.

The two Bike Summits helped galvanize bicyclists — as did the Mayor’s own Bike Summit — while CicLAvia showed us for the first time what the city could be. And L.A. Streetsblog deserves a lot of credit for shining a light on bicycling and other transportation issues, both good and bad.

Let’s also not forget Wolfpack Hustle’s brilliant victory over a Jet Blue airliner. And all the Ridazz and riders who risk the streets to carve out a place for bikes on the city’s too often unforgiving streets.

This award is yours. And you’ve earned it.

One other note.

For years, LADOT and Senior Project Coordinator Michelle Mowery have been the ones local cyclists loved to hate — Mowery especially suffered heaps of blame as the highest ranking bicycling official in the city.

But I long wondered what she could do with the actual support of city leaders, and without the roadblocks posed by senior auto-centric engineers more concerned with maintaining automotive throughput than making the streets safe for everyone.

I think the rapid changes of last few years — and this award — have given us an answer.

And reason to give her our thanks.

That’s not to say our city has suddenly turned into a bicycle paradise. Amsterdam, we’re not.

The bronze award is the lowest level the LAB bestows. It signifies the city has made significant progress, but we still have a very long way to go.

And as the L.A. Weekly pointed out, it’s hard to say the city is truly bike friendly when a full one-third of all bicycling collisions are hit-and-runs.

Then again, as the bike league’s Andy Clarke reminded me at Thursday’s press conference, I was one of the angry cyclists who demanded the LAB rescind their recognition of Santa Monica as a bike-friendly city when it was first awarded back in 2009.

And look how that turned out.

Santa Monica took that modest award, and used it as a springboard to challenge Long Beach as the most bike-friendly community in Southern California.

Maybe we’ll look back on this as the day L.A. took it’s first big step towards becoming the great city it should be. One that works for everyone who uses its streets, rather than bequeathing de facto dominance to the ones with motors.

And truly earns, not just this award, but the silver, gold and platinum levels that could come if we continue to demand and work for them.

………

In an even more surprising award, the LAB named Orange County — yes, the entire county — a Bike Friendly Community as well. And like L.A., at the bronze level.

Something I’m sure a lot of OC cyclists may take as much issue with as I did Santa Monica’s a few years back, given the county’s unacceptably high level of cycling fatalities.

But maybe like SaMo — and hopefully, L.A. — this will spur them to actually do something about it.

And congratulations to already bike friendly Claremont on its promotion to the silver level.

………

The L.A. Times has picked up a story from a Sacramento paper about how Jerry Browned has become the new term for cyclists getting passed dangerously close, in honor of our governor’s two-time veto of the state’s proposed three-foot passing law.

And they have the infinite good taste to not only quote me on the subject, but to embed my video of getting Jerry Browned by a Hollywood tour bus.

Not that they seem to realize the same devilishly handsome and wickedly charming cyclist was responsible for both.

But there’s still that problem of a two-time veto by our two-time governor. And what the hell we’re going to do about it.

That was something that came up in conversation with other riders at Thursday’s press conference. And led to a commitment to try one more time.

If for no other reason than we should refuse to give up on something so important to our safety, regardless of what any pen-wielding curmudgeon may have to say on the subject.

Maybe this time we can demonstrate our real clout, and make it clear it’s in Governor Brown’s best interest to sign it this time, if he wants to be in a position to sign anything next term. Or maybe with the new redistricting and electoral reforms, we can get a veto-proof margin in the legislature to ensure his signature is nothing more than a formality.

The problem is, we’ve lost one of the bill’s two champions.

Senator Alan Lowenthal, who shepherded both bills through the legislature, is termed out of office, and now running for Congress in the 47th District. We could do a lot worse than electing a proven bike-friendly leader to the federal government.

That leaves the bill’s other big supporter — our own Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Chances are, he’s licking his wounds after achieving apparent victory on two separate occasions, only to have it snatched away by our non-friend in Sacramento. Or at least, I would be if I was in his wingtips.

We need to encourage him to give it one more try.

That’s why I’m asking you to contact the mayor’s office by phone or email. Or Twitter, for that matter.

And urge him not to give up on us.

Ask him to use his clout as mayor of the state’s largest city, and his connections in the legislature, to pass a three-foot passing law one more time.

Then it will be on all of us to make sure we don’t get Jerry Browned again.

Three-foot passing law passes, along with bike lane exemption to CEQA; Jensie wins Colorado KoM

The state Assembly voted today to pass SB1461, the latest version of the state’s three-foot passing law.

According to the California Bicycle Coalition, the bill passed overwhelmingly, 50 – 16 — despite opposition from Republican legislators such as Diana Harkey of Dana Point, who insisted bicycling is getting out of control, and the responsibility for safety should be on cyclists.

As if it’s our responsibility to get the hell out of the way of dangerous drivers.

I hope Dana Point cyclists remember that when she comes up for reelection.

Then there was 59th District Assembley Member Tim Donnelly — yes, the guy who tried to take a loaded gun onto a plane — who asked if we couldn’t just trust the judgment of the California people and stop passing law after law.

Evidently, no one told him just who exactly elected the state legislature. And just what exactly they were elected to do.

Besides walk around with loaded pistols in their briefcases, that is.

The next step for the bill is a brief trip back to the Senate to reconcile a few technical amendments, then on to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.

Of course, this is the same Jerry Brown who vetoed a similar bill last year, joining Texas Governor Rick Perry as the only governors to veto safe passing distance legislation. And making Jerry Browned a synonym for getting dangerously buzzed by a too close driver.

No, seriously Jerry. You earned that one.

Word is that he intends to sign it this time, as virtually no one, other than a few sadly misguided legislators, opposed it this time.

On a related note, legislation to exempt painted bike lanes from CEQA review passed the state legislature today, as well.

This one could ultimately prove the more important of the two, as it removes a roadblock that has been used to block bike lane projects in San Francisco. And that has caused LADOT to proceed with extreme caution — and expensive environmental reviews — for fear the same thing could happen here.

Thanks to the California Bicycle Coalition, aka Calbike for shepherding the three-foot bill through the legislature.

………

In a thrilling finish, Christian Vande Velde comes from behind to clinch the USA Pro Cycling Challenge by finishing second in the final stage time trial won by cycling scion Taylor Phinney. George Hincapie wraps up his long and storied career at the end of the Denver time trial. And in an unanticipated victory guaranteed to warm the heart of any aging long time bike race fans, the ageless Jens Voigt wins the King of the Mountain title.

The Guardian asks if professional cycling really wants to clean up its act. Surprisingly, Alberto Contador has good things to say about former arch-rival Lance Armstrong, even as he struggles to make a comeback in the Vuelta. A mathematician dissects the wording of the charges against Armstrong, and finds them fully consistent with being false. The French anti-doping agency says Lance was regularly tipped off about pending drug tests; thanks to CLR Effect for the link. Former framebuilder Dave Moulton says Landis and LeMond got screwed as part of the doping scandal.

………

Friends and family speculate Mt. Washington bike victim Jean Carlos Galaviz may have been a hit-and-run victim, despite drinking two beers before riding and leaving with a third; note to Highland Park Patch, getting doored or riding without a helmet is not the hallmark of a risk taker. If you missed it Saturday, you can still listen to Where to Bike Los Angeles authors Sarah Amelar and Jon Riddle on Bike Talk. Examined Spoke examines the city council’s backward bike thinking in the biking black hole of Beverly Hills. The LACBC rides to the rescue when a film crew blocks a Hollywood bike lane. A 70-year old cyclist suffers a broken leg when he’s hit by a bus in a Baldwin Park crosswalk. Evidently, Amanda Bynes really is the new Lindsey Lohan, as the City Attorney’s office re-examines her second hit-and-run in four months, along with a previous DUI. Glendale officials hope a revised bike plan results in a five-fold increase in ridership, while a Glendale Riverwalk project faces a one month delay. A Long Beach teenager chases down her stolen bike with the help of some strangers.

A former Santa Ana College student makes bike theft a family affair at her alma mater. Authorities seek a man who attempted to sexually assault a Murrieta cyclist. Paso Robles commits to becoming a bike friendly community. Seventeen-year old Concord driver pleads not guilty in deaths of a bike riding father and daughter; he faces less than four years in juvenile hall. Guilty plea from the driver who ran down a cyclist because he was wearing plaid — the cyclist, not the driver.

People for Bikes offers six ways to ride more; the most effective way is just get fired for riding when you should be working and you’ll have all the time in the world. A look at Evan Schneider, editor the bicycling literary review Boneshaker in my hometown. A road raging Michigan man is arrested for brutally assaulting a cyclist, but only charged with misdemeanor assault on just $5,000 bail; nice to know how lightly authorities take a violent attack on a bike rider. Gothamist effectively dismantles an anti-bike review of bike messenger movie Premium Rush. New York cyclists and pedestrians complain about a rough bikeway surface installed to slow down speeding riders. Suri Cruise is rapidly becoming one of us. A DC-area cyclist says it’s time to hold other cyclists accountable — besides him, that is. A Bethesda MD hit-and-run victim is unsure if she’ll ever ride again.

A Nova Scotia cyclist is threatened with a knife after getting hit by a road-raging driver. A UK cyclist is badly injured after he’s pushed off his bike by passing motorists. A one-handed Paralympic cyclist hopes to add to her seven gold medals. Urban cycling is getting more popular in Prague, though not without problems.

Finally, in a remarkably wrong-headed move, manufacturers of a new pill want to empower drunk drivers to kill more people by masking breathalyzer results.

A little this, a little that — NBC’s Tracy Morgan doors a cyclist, a killer Santa Cruz driver gets a sore wrist

A few quick notes before I hit the ground rolling on what promises to be a gorgeous day.

……..

Comedian, please.

Tracy Morgan, star of NBC sitcom 30 Rock, clearly doesn’t get it after dooring a cyclist in New York yesterday.

After flinging open the door of his car in the path of a bike delivery man, Morgan blamed the rider for wearing black. And made it clear that the incident was no big deal.

And in all honesty, it probably wasn’t.

To him.

According to the New York Post, Morgan was quoted as saying “This kind of stuff happens all the time in the city. I grew up in the city. I’ve been dealing with this stuff for years. Brooklyn-born and -raised, Bed-Stuy do or die.”

Unfortunately, he’s right. Whether he’s talking about cyclists getting doored, or celebs who refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

Meanwhile, E Online seems far more concerned about the comedian’s health than the cyclist he sent to the hospital with minor injuries.

At least future Gotham bike riders will face less risk of dooring from the city’s cabs, as the next generation cab design approved by the city will have sliding doors to protect those around them.

Maybe we can get Tracy Morgan to trade his Jaguar for one.

……..

While we’re on the subject of New York, local cyclists are tired of police blaming the victim and demand better protection and investigations from the NYPD. Meanwhile, a bike riding transit official clashes with a cop who tried to stop him from riding in a no-access area, and tries to pull rank by pretending to be a police commissioner.

……..

Pennsylvania cyclists get protection from a new four-foot passing law as of the first of this month; at least one driver can’t grasp the concept that it’s okay to wait until it’s safe to pass.

That seemed to be the rationalization our own governor used in vetoing last year’s three-foot passing bill, assuming that drivers would mindlessly slam on their brakes to slow down to pass cyclists at less than three feet, rather that wait a few seconds to pass safely.

Now he may get another chance to be less of an idiot do the right thing, as a new three-foot passing bill heads to committee — this time without the driver-appeasing clause Gov. Brown objected to last year.

……..

In a bizarre case from Edinburgh, a cyclist is slightly injured after jumping on the hood of a car during a roadway dispute, then holding on for dear life as the driver swerves from side-to-side and brakes repeatedly in an attempt to throw him off.

Note to cyclists — no matter how smart it may seem at the time, don’t climb onto the vehicle of the driver you’re arguing with.

Never mind getting killed. You could get strip searched.

……..

A Santa Cruz-area driver gets a whopping two years in jail for running down a cyclist and fleeing the scene, leaving his victim to die on the side of the road.

Can someone please explain to me how that isn’t murder?

The collision may have been unintended, but the decision to let his victim bleed out in the street was purely intentional.

Instead, Elliot Dess gets a slap on the wrist, while an innocent bike rider got the death penalty.

If the laws we have now don’t give prosecutors the tools they need to address crimes like this, then we need to change the law so future heartless killers will get the punishment they deserve.

Two lousy years.

Give me a break.

……..

San Diego cyclists are becoming a political force.

That’s something that should soon be happening here, as the LACBC is in the process of forming a political committee to help influence the election of bike-friendly civic leaders; more details soon.

……..

California’s oldest bike racer has another two titles under his belt. In an impressive performance, 93-year old Gordy Shields of El Cajon — soon to be 94 — won the state championship for his age group in both the 20k time trial and the criterium.

Of course, he was the only competitor in his age group.

But still.

……..

Finally, medical science at last discovers the discomfort many women riders have complained about for decades, and realizes that maybe it wasn’t all in their heads after all.

Meanwhile, Gothamist wonders if this, combined with reports of erectile dysfunction among some male riders, means cyclists will soon go extinct.

Uh, no.

Tell AAA to stop fighting 3-foot passing law; final vote on Bike Anti-Harassment Ordinance July 20th

One of the biggest transportation fallacies is the enduring myth of cyclists versus drivers.

The fact is, despite the irrational hatred some drivers have for us, most cyclists are drivers as well. And many of us — myself included — belong to one of California’s two branches of AAA, by far the state’s largest motorist groups and among the most powerful lobbyist groups in Sacramento.

Yet remarkably, AAA’s kneejerk response is to oppose any proposed legislation that would increase protection for cyclists or pedestrians — let alone protect their driving-only members from needless collisions and the expensive insurance claims and legal matters that follow.

The latest case in point is AAA’s needless opposition to SB910, California’s proposed three-foot passing law.

AAA initially took a stance opposing the measure as it was originally written. Yet even when the key point they objected to — a clause that would allow drivers to pass at less that three feet when they maintain a speed differential of 15 mph or less — was removed, they continued to oppose the bill.

Their current position is that a three foot passing distance is a wonderful idea — but it should be voluntary on the part of drivers, rather than a mandatory minimum standard.

In other words, if they had their way, California drivers would be able to legally pass you at any distance they damn well wanted to. Whether that’s three feet or three inches.

Not only would that gut the proposed legislation, it would significantly weaken the current law requiring motorists to simply pass at a safe distance — which many drivers interpret as anything that does not make actually contact with the cyclist.

That was made clear by the three separate drivers who passed me Tuesday at a distance of about a foot or less, even after I had taken the lane.

Maybe they were in a hurry and couldn’t be bothered to pass safely. Or maybe they were just pissed off to see a cyclist in front of them.

I can’t speak for you, but I’ve had enough.

I’m sick and tired of AAA using my membership money to fight legislation designed to protect my life. And I intend to tell them so.

And I hope you’ll join me.

Just send a letter — evidently, they still haven’t joined to digital age – to:

Thomas V. McKernan
CEO
Automobile Club of Southern California
2601 S. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90007-3254

And

Paula F Downey
President
California State Automobile Association
1276 California Blvd
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

You can see a sample letter here. But mine is going to be more direct and far less polite.

Because I’m sick of belonging to an organization that purports to support my interests working to make the roads more dangerous for me. And everyone who shares them with me.

Besides, I’m told there’s a pretty good alternative that also supports bikes.

……..

Mark your calendar.

L.A.’s proposed Bicycle Anti-Harassment Ordinance comes before the full City Council on Wednesday, July 20th, with the session starting at 10 am. It’s vital that as many cyclists as possible attend; if you can’t be there in person, contact your councilmember to voice your support.

Even if you live in another city but ride in Los Angeles, this ordinance will affect you and help protect your safety, so make sure your voice heard, as well.

The LADOT Bike Program is collecting cyclists’ stories of being harassed on L.A. streets; if you’re on Facebook, add your story to show how desperately this new law is needed.

And the idea seems to be spreading, even before this law is adopted, let alone goes into effect.

……..

Speaking of LADOT, Jaime de la Vega’s nomination to head the agency was approved by the City Council Transportation Committee, and will go to the full Council on Friday; he promises more emphasis on public transit, cycling and pedestrians.

Let’s just hope he lives up to his promise.

……..

Michael Byerts forward the following theft alert:

Be on the Lookout!

The individual shown was videotaped stealing a bike from 5750 Wilshire Blvd one week ago.

Description:  Male black, light facial hair, bald.

Last know incident:  July-7-11 the suspected individual made an attempt to steal another bike from the premises.

Modus operandi: Suspected thief uses cell phone as guise, selects higher end bikes, cuts the lock with a knife & steals the bike in broad day light.

Last Seen: Running from the scene of a reported bike theft on Wilshire, South on Curson to 8th Street then west on 8th Street.

Please report any sightings of this individual to security personnel or the authorities. Never attempt to approach a suspect yourself.

……..

Katusha’s Alexander Kolobnev became the first — but probably not the last — rider to fail a drug test during this year’s Tour.

Meanwhile, barbed wire survivor Johnny Hoogerland says it’s actually easier to ride in the Tour de France than rest in his bed. Red Kite Prayer seems to capture what we’ve all been feeling since Hoogerland got up from that horrible crash to finish the stage; it’s definitely worth the click to read the rest.

Hoogerland’s name was barely known to most of us before the Tour started. In my head he was just another Dutch cyclist. Now he’s a hero, not of the Tour or of cycling, but of the human spirit. After all, who walks out on a dream as the whole of the world gasps for you?

……..

Someone doesn’t get it, though.

In yet another case of an ESPN talking head demonstrating a hateful bias against cyclists, ESPN sports personality Michael Smith repeatedly tweeted how funny he found the Tour de France collision that injured Hoogerland and Juan Flecha. After a storm of protest, he first offered a half-hearted apology, followed by a far more meaningful one once he realized his job could be on the line — or more likely, once the company’s lawyers got involved.

This follows other notable cases involving bike-hating ESPN personalities, including Tony Kornheiser and the team of Waddle and Silvy.

The inimitable Bike Snob joins in the hilarity and our own SWRVE offers a brilliant response.

Maybe it’s time to contact Robert Iger, CEO of ESPN parent company Disney, to let him know that violence against cyclists isn’t funny.

And that we’re sick and tired of his employees encouraging it.

……..

The L.A. City Planning Commission meets at 8:30 am Thursday to discuss a proposed bike parking ordinance. Will Campbell offers a timelapse of Sunday’s not-quite-CicLAvia ride, which seems to have gone off beautifully. Todd Munson captures another shot of a needlessly blocked bike lane on Venice Blvd. The Engaged Observer looks at riding with the Ridazz. Speaking of whom, Ridazz and skateboard flash mobs may take over the 405 during Carmageddon; thanks to Rex Reese for the heads-up. Orlando Bloom deals with “big and intimidating” L.A. by riding his bike, just like the rest of us. Discuss a possible Santa Monica bike share program on Wednesday the 20th. Biking and BBQ with Long Beach’s Charlie Gandy. Rosemead Blvd will get a road diet complete with cycle tracks through Temple City. KCRW’s Steve Herbert is participating in the Cliff Bar 2 Mile Challenge. Peloton magazine invites you to celebrate Bastille Day with them in Burbank Thursday evening. Remembering former cycling champ and SoCal coach Mark Whitehead. Cycling is up in Santa Cruz, and so are cycling collisions.

Problem drivers tend to be problem people. The newly renamed Velo News is now just Velo, except online where, in an apparent attempt to confuse their readers, it’s still Velo News. Walmart now offers Dutch Bike Shaped Objects, which they seem to consider toys. Enhanced enforcement can cut distracted driving rates. Tales of bike commutes good and bad. Tucson police are already targeting drivers who ignore turn lanes on an upcoming bike boulevard. Over twice as many NYC women ride in protected bike lanes as on streets with no infrastructure. Long Island has the highest cycling fatality rate in the New York area. Victoria’s Secret and some of their models raised $200,000 for a bike ride to raise money for cancer research. Ten Samaritans lift a pickup off a cyclist who was trapped underneath. Niagara Falls police rule the death of a cyclist an accident after he rides into an open manhole; call me crazy, but wouldn’t the crew that left the cover off have some responsibility? If New Orleans can become bike-friendly with their ancient narrow streets and levees crisscrossing the city, no other city has any excuse. A political scientist offers an intriguing and insightful look at the conflict between tribes of cyclists and motorists, and the failure of rule of law when it comes to traffic.

A London woman survives without serious injury after being dragged under a large truck at a troublesome intersection. A new survey shows 62% of Aussies are willing to bike to work — but don’t because of safety fears. In a horrific case, a group of drunken thugs beat a 9-year old New Zealand girl with her own bicycle.

Finally, a team of 50-something cyclists, including one from Laguna, sets a new RAAM women’s record by traversing the country in six days, 11 hours and 34 minutes — and beats two teams of younger women and six eight-man men’s teams in the process.

Something tells me they aren’t afraid to bike to work. With or without separated bike lanes.

Closing arguments in Wray trial, double pro racing tragedies, 3feet2pass survives GOP opposition

Catching up on the week’s news after far too much bad news this week.

……..

Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday morning in the trial of Gordon Wray, charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide in the death of popular local cyclist and scientist Doug Coldwell. The trial resumes a 9:30 am in the San Fernando Courthouse.

If you’re in the area and have the morning free, the lawyers I’ve talked to tell me it can help to have a room full of cyclists to let the judge and jury know we’re watching.

……..

California’s proposed three-foot passing law took another step forward when the Assembly Appropriations Committee passed it on a straight party-line vote; next up is a vote by the full Assembly in August.

……..

This week’s tragic news has spread from the South Bay to the world of professional bicycling.

Oceanside cycling coach Mark Whitehead, a member of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic team and holder of 20 national titles, has died while attending the junior track national championships in Texas; no details have been released the cause of death. As a coach, Whitehead mentored multiple world champ Sarah Hammer and L.A.’s own 2008 national criterium champion Rahsaan Bahati, among others.

And rising Aussie professional Carly Hibberd was killed when she was hit by a car while training in Italy. She was riding with training partner Diego Tamayo of Columbia; Tamayo escaped injury, while Hibberd died at the scene. The 26-year old cyclist was just three months from her planned wedding.

……..

Red Kite Prayer looks at the recent Gran Fondo Los Angeles and says it needs a little work; directions to the post-ride festival my wife and I tried to attend to but couldn’t find until too late would have been nice, too.

I’m told that that Mayor of Beverly Hills gave a grand speech welcoming cyclists to the city. If only he’d do something to make us welcome the other 364 days of the year.

……..

The recently anti-bike New York Times seems to be shifting gears more often than a weekend warrior testing out a new derailleur. Their latest reports indicate women in New York prefer safety and fashion over cycle chic, while an Econ professor writing for their business blog explores the many benefits of the bicycle dividend:

Major improvements in bike infrastructure wouldn’t just make it easier to get to work. They would also create work, a high priority in our high-unemployment economy.

Construction of bike paths offers more job creation per infrastructure dollar than investment in roads. (For more details, see this recent study by my University of Massachusetts colleague Heidi Garrett-Peltier, who analyzed 58 projects in 11 cities, using an input-output model to measure employment impact).

……..

In case you missed it dodging cars over the holiday weekend, there’s a little bike ride going on in France for the next three weeks. And unlike most years, where there’s not much reason to pay attention before the race hits the mountains, this year’s Tour de France has offered some damn good racing going on from the non-prologue start, and more drama than a demolition derby.

American Tyler Farrar celebrates the Fourth with a victory in Stage Three, and dedicates his win to fallen friend and former teammate Wouter Weylandt. Formerly clenbuterol-tainted defending champ Alberto Contador finally makes a charge, but falls just short as Cadel Evans narrowly takes Stage Four. Stage Five turned into a crash fest as Cavendish takes the win, and Contador drops further back after riding into a ditch and taking it out on his bike; world champion Thor Hushovd leads by 1 second over Evans. RadioShack rider Janez Brajkovic was forced to leave the Tour due to his injuries, while Quickstep’s Tom Boonen escaped serious injury and will continue to ride.

Red Kite Prayer says the race could be wide open this year. And Frank Schleck manages to hold third place despite swallowing a bug and getting stung in the mouth.

……..

Mayor Villaraigosa orders L.A. agencies to work together to implement the city’s new bike plan, and asks for your input on how to make the city more bike-friendly. Joe Linton says the city is already falling short. L.A. lifeguards call a 4th of July SigAlert on the Santa Monica bike path. LADOT Bike Blog updates the status of the city’s bike lane projects, as well as the latest BPIT (Bike Plan Implementation Team) meeting; evidently, this one was a little less contentious and things actually got done. Will Campbell takes a time-lapse ride on the other side of the L.A. River. A cyclist fights for his right to take the lane in Culver City and loses. Claremont pulls the brakes on the Amgen Tour of California for next year, but would welcome it back in 2013. A day in the life of professional cyclist Cara Gillis. A Laguna Hills bike shop now offers roadside service for Orange County cyclists. Bay Area bike commuters are facing major traffic jams on the Golden Gate Bridge. JustAnotherCyclist lists his favorite cycling blogs, which includes your humble host in some very good company. The Executive Director of the Sierra Club says it’s time to look beyond oil to other solutions, including bikes; what, you thought he was going to call for expanding the 405 even further?

What if we treated motor vehicle deaths like any other preventable public health issue? Elly Blue concludes her groundbreaking series on Bikenomics by saying bicycling may not make us rich, but it creates a lot of well-being — and maybe that’s more important. Creating a circle of roadway courtesy. Recharge your iPhone while you ride. Steve Vance looks at the problem of construction detours that don’t consider or accommodate bikes, something that ticks me off on a regular basis. Yet another tragedy in New York, as the sister-in-law of famed attorney Alan Dershowitz is killed by a postal truck whose driver appeared to be unaware of the collision. CNN offers a positive look at the New York bike boom, but why does it always have to be framed as a battle between cyclists and drivers? Tennessee proposes a law requiring due care when passing a cyclist or pedestrian and eliminating the SMIDSY* defense, while Streetsblog offers a frontline perspective on the proposed law. A report from a Virginia TV station implies that cyclists don’t deserve protection on the streets because — OMG! — some of us break traffic laws just like drivers do; meanwhile, a fire truck strikes two riders in the same city without stopping. A cyclist’s guide to driving your bike safely; thanks to Dave Moulton for the link.

A university study says protein supplements may offer no benefit. London’s Guardian asks what’s the best way to stop an angry dog? A British driver walks free after killing a cyclist and claiming his sciatica caused it; a UK hit-and-run driver gets a suspended license and community service. This is what a bike theft looks like, while a teenager climbs three stories to steal a bike. Fighting poverty with bikes in sub-Saharan Africa. For the first time, Japanese police charge a cyclist with using a cell phone while riding.

Finally, advice for next weekend’s Carmegeddo, as a Chinese driver asks why sit stuck in traffic when there’s a nearby footbridge you can drive over?

*Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You

An open letter in support of SB 910, California’s proposed three-foot passing law

As you may be aware, the California Senate recently passed the state’s proposed three-foot passing law. Now it’s under consideration in the state Assembly’s Transportation Committee, with a deadline of 5 pm Tuesday to offer your comments.

I have strongly supported three-foot passing laws throughout my riding career. As I’ve pointed out before, I consider it a much-needed improvement over the current vague standard in place in California and most other states.

As a result, I’ve written the following letter to Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, Chair of the Transportation Committee, to express my support and urge the removal of a clause that would allow passing at less three when travelling at a speed differential of less than 15 mph. This clause undermines the purpose of the bill, and would increase driver confusion and the risk to riders, rather than decreasing it as the law intends.

If you haven’t already, I urge you to write Lowenthal to express your support; it also can’t hurt to send a copy your own Assemblymember and the bill’s author, Sen. Alan Lowenthal, while you’re at it.

You can find a sample letter and more instructions here.

……..

Hon. Bonnie Lowenthal
Chair, Assembly Transportation Committee
State Capital, Room 112
Sacramento, CA 95814
Assemblymember.Lowenthal@assembly.ca.gov

Dear Assemblymember Lowenthal,

I’m writing to express my support for Senate Bill 910 and to urge the committee to approve the bill on June 27, with one vital amendment.

As a serious bicyclist and California resident, I have ridden a bike on the streets and highways of this state for over 20 years. During that time, I have experienced a number of close calls that have threatened my life and safety due to drivers passing too closely.

I have had drivers pass so close that their mirrors have brushed against my arm, and had passengers reach out to touch me or dump liquids on me. I have been crowded off various roadways, both accidently and intentionally, and nearly collided with parked vehicles as a result, as well as being blown out of my lane by the slipstream from passing trucks and buses. In fact, I can count on being passed at a dangerously close distance at least once or twice virtually every time I ride. I can only credit luck and my own skill as a cyclist for having avoided serious injuries as a result.

On more than one occasion, I have managed to confront drivers who have passed me at such a dangerously close distance; almost invariably, the drivers were convinced that they observed a safe passing distance, demonstrated by the fact that they didn’t actually make contact with me.

The current standard for safe passing is both unclear and confusing, providing no objective measurement to tell drivers what is a safe passing distance. This law clarifies that, providing a clear standard that anyone can understand. Its passage is vital to protect the safety of cyclists, reduce needless confrontations between cyclists and motorists, and encourage more people to choose bikes as a safe form of alternative transportation.

However, I must request that the current bill be amended to remove the provision allowing passage at less than three feet with a speed differential of 15 mph or less. This provision creates a confusing, unmeasurable standard that benefits no one while undermining the key provision of this bill. As a result, it serves to increase the risk to cyclists rather than decreasing it, and is almost universally opposed by every cyclist I have discussed it with. As an alternative, briefly allowing drivers to cross the center or lane line to pass a bicyclist maintains the spirit of the law, while permitting safe passing under most circumstances.

I urge you to pass this important bill, with the above amendment,  to help make our streets safer for everyone.

Sincerely,

Ted Rogers
www.bikinginla.com
@bikinginla (Twitter)

CC: Senator Alan Lowenthal, Assemblymember Mike Feuer

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