Tag Archive for traffic fatalities

Morning Links: Hit-and-run runs rampant throughout CA; video shows plans for Puente Hills Landfill park

If you think the hit-and-run epidemic is getting worse, you’re right.

Stats wonk Ed Ryder does a great job of mining the CHP’s SWITRS database; in the past, he’s created detailed charts to help us understand traffic collisions on PCH, as well as in LA and Orange Counties, and around the state.

So when I met with a state legislator to discuss the problem of hit-and-runs recently, I asked Ryder if he could delve into the database once again to show just how big a problem it really is.

And big is putting it mildly.

As his report shows, it’s goes way beyond bad, and it’s only getting worse. Not just here in LA, but nearly everywhere in California.

In fact, from 2004 to now, a driver fled the scene in nearly 20% of all crashes in the state.


After dropping to a low of 17.4% of all collisions in 2011, hit-and-run has made a big comeback, climbing to 19.5% in 2015, and 20% to date in 2016.


Note: It should be noted that the more recent figures are preliminary, since there’s a significant lag time in reporting statistics to SWITRS. And these stats only include death and serious injuries; adding property damage would boost the percentages significantly.

The sheer numbers are staggering, with nearly 300 deaths due to hit-and-run collisions in recent years, and over 20,000 injuries.


As the following chart shows, the costs are huge, not just in terms of human suffering, but in the economic loss to society, as well.


Not surprisingly, Los Angeles County is the state’s overwhelming leader in hit-and-run deaths, with San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties fighting it out for 2nd place.


Injuries paint an even more dramatic picture, with LA County accounting for over half of all hit-and-runs resulting in injuries.


However, that is partly a function of LA’s sheer size. When you look at hit-and-run collisions as a percentage of population, a much different picture appears.

While LA still leads in injury collisions, it drops to ninth in fatalities.



It’s possible that may be due to better access to emergency care compared to less urban counties like Kern and Tulare, where it could take significantly longer to get to a trauma center following a crash. As well as slower speeds resulting from traffic congestion and lower speed limits in urban areas.

Regardless, it’s clear that hit-and-run is a problem that affects the entire state.

And it’s not going to go away until we do something about it.

You can download Ed Ryder’s full report here.


A new video explains the plan for the Puente Hills Landfill park, which was approved by the county supervisors yesterday.


The route has been announced for next year’s 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia, once again with a focus on climbing.

A 46-year old British amateur cyclist has received a four year ban for using EPO, just months after being banned for using another substance. But cycling doesn’t have a cheating problem anymore. Right?



Today is the last day to weigh in on the proposed Rail-to-River bikeway connecting the Crenshaw Line to the LA River through the southeast cities.

New signs are being installed on the LA River bike path telling riders to slow down in areas where more people walk. CiclaValley prefers to look on the bright side, noting that part of the bike path closure is due to improvements, even though we may not see them for the foreseeable future.

Pasadena will discuss plans for the coming Metro Bike bikeshare system at a public meeting this Thursday.

Long Beach police receive a $400,000 grant to improve traffic safety, including DUI, distracted driving, and bike and pedestrian safety enforcement.



A San Diego cyclist is asking for help remembering what the hell happened to him; he found himself standing bloodied and confused in a Target parking lot two miles away with a cracked skull and multiple facial fractures after going for a bike ride, with no idea how he got there.

San Diego offers proposals to discourage driving without increasing density, including counting on autonomous vehicles to reduce the need for parking and room for bike lanes.

While we’re on the subject of our neighbor to the South, San Diego’s CicloSDias ciclovía is looking for volunteers for this Sunday’s 4th annual open streets event.

San Francisco will get its first parking protected, elevated bike lane in the Mission District, but only for one block.

The San Francisco Chronicle looks at the “pack of vigilantes” altering the city’s streets to improve safety for bicyclists; a new video shows how it’s done.



Streetsblog looks at how American cities can protect cyclists from deadly trucks. It shouldn’t be left to individual cities or states; the federal government should mandate new trucking standards to improve safety for everyone.

Evanston IL city leaders propose removing a new bike lane from one side of the street to improve safety for motorists. Yes, you read that right; they want to sacrifice the safety of people on bicycles to protect the ones surrounded by a few tons of glass and steel. 

A Massachusetts blogger and mountain biker offers real world advice on bike commuting.

A 28-year old New York woman writes in Vogue about learning how to ride a bike as an adult to prepare for a trip to Copenhagen. Yes, Vogue. Evidently, we’ve become stylish.

Bike ridership continues to climb in New York, though lower income communities are being left behind as most protected lanes go into more affluent areas.

A 67-year old Virginia cyclist may be the oldest woman ride solo across the US.

ABC News reports on the South Carolina teacher who is raising funds to buy a bicycle for every student at her disadvantaged school.



Relatives of people killed on Toronto streets have formed their own traffic safety group to call for an end to road violence.

An Ottawa bike rider was hit by a car while riding in a new bike lane, just hours after it was officially opened. Which is a pretty good sign that a little paint may not be sufficient.

A Canadian city is being sued over an allegedly unsafe bike lane following a collision. Not by the rider who was paralyzed in the crash, but by the driver convicted of causing it by making an unsafe turn.

A UK website goes back 40 years to explain how Edinburgh became a bike-friendly city.

The creepy clown phenomenon continues to spread around the world, as a 15-year old New Zealand boy was frightened by a clown that threatened to kill him as he rode his bike. Although maybe it’s the clowns who should be scared.

Shanghai is offering ebike users a free electronic chip to track their bicycles if they’re stolen.



Who needs carbon or Ti when you can have wood? It’s one thing to steal a boy’s bicycle; another to apparently steal the boy with it.

And it’s time to make bicycling great again, as a Trump supporter with a megaphone goes on an unexpected bike safety monologue.

Thanks to Cyclelicious for the link.

Morning Links: Traffic fatalities up nationwide, bike deaths reach 1990s levels; an NFL analyst says he’s sorry

It’s not your imagination.

Newly released government stats show America’s roads really are getting more dangerous.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic fatalities shot up 7.2% nationwide last year, the largest increase since Lyndon Johnson was president.

The total of 35,092 is still significantly lower than 2006, when 42,708 people died on American streets; however, this is the first year to defy the downward trend that has followed ever since.

Authorities say the increase is due at least in part to a 3.5% increase in vehicle miles traveled, which represents the largest increase in VMT in 25 years, spurred by lower gas prices and increased employment.

One in three fatalities involved drug driving or speeding, while one in ten involved distracted drivers.

Meanwhile, pedestrian deaths were up 9.5%, while bicycling fatalities increased a whopping 12.2% — both at the highest levels since the ‘90s, erasing two decades of safety gains.

That works out to an average of 96 people killed in traffic collisions every single day — more than two of whom were traveling by bicycle.

A genuine commitment to implement Vision Zero can’t come soon enough.

Or strongly enough.


Today’s common theme is follow-ups to a number of recent news stories.

Cycling in the South Bay writes about the NFL Network’s Heath Evans, one of several recent anti-bike tweeters, who actually had the courage to show up and apologize. And turned out to be a pretty decent guy.

Mountain bikers call BS on a Forest Service investigation that a bike pedal scraping a rock caused a forest fire near Mammoth Lakes.

A Toronto bike advocate concludes the Canadian senator who complained bike lanes were turning the city into a third world country is out of touch. To say the least.


Twitter users respond brilliantly to a recent misleading article suggesting London bicyclists are ignoring the city’s new bike superhighways.


Another day, another new leader in the Vuelta, and this time, by a wide margin.

America’s last remaining Tour de France winner claims to have developed a new process to dramatically cut the cost of carbon fiber. Let’s hope that means cheaper bike frames down the road.



Richard Risemberg says the new Expo Line bike path isn’t just fragmented, it’s demented.

LAist hears from Angelenos who live carfree; most cite less stress as the primary benefit to traveling the city without the seemingly requisite cars; Kimpton Hotels tackles the same subject for travelers visiting California.

Bike Walk Burbank will hold their annual meeting on Sept. 7th.



The Newport Beach Police Department warns about an increase in bike thefts.

Evidently, drivers break the law, too; San Diego police list the leading offense drivers are ticketed for as speeding, followed by disobeying traffic signals and driving without a license. So evidently, bike riders aren’t the only ones who roll stops and red lights. Despite what this commenter has to say.

San Diego bicyclists take a moonlight ride in their undies.

Rancho Santa Fe announces plans to move and elevate El Camino Real, while converting it a complete street with bike lanes and sidewalks.

Moreno Valley police blame the victim after a teenage bike rider is left lying in the road by a hit-and-run driver, saying he rode through a red light.

Talk about burying the lede. A Thousand Oaks cyclist was apparently chased down and struck by a road raging driver, in a case the police are investigating as an assault with a deadly weapon, although the Ventura County Star insists on treating it as a hit-and-run.

A San Francisco man is under arrest for stabbing two strangers in the head with a screwdriver on a BART train, then making his escape by stealing a bicycling at knifepoint.

Sacramento is planning to make major changes to downtown streets to improve safety for bike riders and provide transportation alternatives in anticipation of a boost in population.



A conservation writer looks at the science behind cycling’s enormous gender discrepancy. Which you could probably have figured out on your own.

Alta Planning’s Mia Burk says the biggest change over the last 20 years is that active transportation has become mainstream.

Police in Anchorage AK are looking for a bike rider who has pepper sprayed at least four people.

Win your third consecutive gold medal, and maybe Boise ID will name a park after you, too.

More anti-bike sabotage, as someone tossed tacks on the route of an Illinois crit; eight riders luckily escaped serious injury in a pileup caused by flats.

A Minnesota letter writer says that despite complaints from some people, a busy street that recently underwent a road diet has never been safer, and the bike lanes are used year round.

In a strange case from Minnesota, a man on an motorized-assist bicycle was the victim of a fatal hit-and-run; a similar bike was found at the same location the next morning, but police suggest it’s just a coincidence. Evidently, people in Minnesota just happen to leave bicycles like that lying around for no apparent reason all the time.

Cincinnati’s Red Bike may be the country’s most profitable bikeshare system.

Players from ten states converge on Memphis for a laid-back bike polo tournament.



Officials in Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas are planning to link the cities with a cross-border bike path. Maybe they can build a tunnel through Trump’s wall if he gets elected.

A new Canadian study shows having bikeshare stations nearby boosts property values up to 3%.

An English city belatedly realizes that they didn’t actually ban bikes from eleven streets, but only restricted the hours bicyclists could ride in pedestrianized areas. And can’t decide on who’s supposed to enforce it.

Paris ups the ante on open streets, banning cars from the entire city for one glorious day next month.

A New Zealand website says e-bikes aren’t cheating.

Caught on video: After an Aussie cyclist flipped off the truck driver who nearly ran him off the road, the driver got out of his cab to repeatedly threaten the rider.

Now that’s more like it. Japan is considering requiring car makers to include safety features to protect bike riders in crashes, including possible changes to the upper parts of vehicles. That’s because bike riders sit higher than pedestrians, and tend to strike the hood and windshield of cars in a crash. Although the better solution is not to hit them in the first place.

A Malaysian cyclist offers the fine points of using a bicycle to solve the first mile/last mile transit connections. Most of which would apply here, as well.



Regardless of how annoying it is when drivers honk at you, please try to keep your pants on. Now that’s what I call a fat bike.

And your helmet may not protect you from a speeding car, but it could save you from a leaping stag.


Weekend Links: Traffic and bicycling fatalities jump, help fix Forest Lawn Drive, and ride-off with Metro Bike

Just a few quick notes before we break for the holiday weekend.


So much for peak driving, as driving hit record levels, with Americans putting in more miles on the road 2015 than ever before.

Along with it comes a 7.7% jump in traffic fatalities, with bicycling fatalities up 13%, and pedestrian deaths climbing 10%.

But the increase wasn’t just because of the record driving levels. The rate of traffic fatalities also increased to 1.12 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up from 1.08 the year before.

A genuine nationwide commitment to Vision Zero can’t come soon enough.


If you’ve ever ridden LA’s Forest Lawn Drive, you know what a challenge it can be to navigate the crumbling road surface.

Cyclist Craig White has started a petition calling on Councilmember David Ryu to fix the roadway to make it safe for people on bicycles.

It’s well worth taking a few moments to sign.


Metro is looking for people to ride in Thursday’s kickoff event for the Grand Opening of the Metro Bike Share at Grand Park in DTLA on Thursday.

Metro Bike Share is launching with up to 65 stations and 1000 bicycles in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) on July 7, 2016!

Join Metro, the City of Los Angeles and the Downtown community in a celebration at Grand Park with music, snacks, and a chance to be the first to test ride the new bikes for free!

The Metro Bike Share Launch and Ride-Off Event will culminate with a bike ride to experience a new way to see DTLA.

To sign up for the ride-off, select your preferred station destination from the ticket options provided. You’ll be assigned a bike and asked to sign a waiver as a part of the registration process. Please note: Sign ups are first come first served, so don’t miss out. Don’t forget to bring your helmet!

If you are interested in leading a ride group, please email us at marketing@bikeshare.metro.net. Ride leaders get a special Metro Bike Share gift for helping out!

Remember this is a ride-off, so make sure to pick a station close to where you want to end up! We recommend arriving to the event by Metro Rail, bus, or by walking. Plan your trip at Metro.net or use the transit setting on your preferred map application.

Launch Party schedule:

  • 11-11:30am – Check-in
  • 11:30am – Celebration
  • 12pm – Press Conference
  • 12:30pm – Ride-off

Click here to RSVP asap!


Nice piece from Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman, as she stops to help a young man patch his tube, only to discover it wasn’t fixable.

Fortunately, though, he was, as he tells her about the metal rod in his back after recovering from being hit by a car six months earlier.


Sad news from Chicago, as a woman was killed riding one of the city’s Divvy bikeshare bikes, in what is believed to be the first bikeshare fatality in the US.

Thanks to Steve Herbert for the heads-up.


Long-time reader Fred Davis forwards an excerpt from former New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s book Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution discussing the fight for bike lanes, and the inevitable bikelash that followed.


The Guardian traces a cycling path through literature.


A suspected bike thief was caught on video in Long Beach’s Belmont Shore.


My formerly sled dog-racing brother, now living in Colorado, forwards news of an Aspen area bike trail being closed due to too much adorableness.

A rider took a photo of three mountain lion kittens on the side of the trail. Which means that mama was undoubtedly nearby somewhere. And not likely to look kindly on anyone getting too close to her brood.


Have a great 4th of July weekend.

But don’t forget that holiday weekends mean more drunk and stoned drivers on the road. And more people more focused on finding a parking space than looking for bicycles in front of them.

So ride safely and defensively this weekend. I want to see you all back here on Tuesday.


Morning Links: US traffic deaths are down, while bike fatalities go up; more groups spread holiday bike cheer

According to the latest stats from the NHTSA, overall traffic deaths in the US are down slightly, while bicycling fatalities are the only category that went up in 2013.

That increase, to 743 cycling fatalities — up from 726 the year before — is most likely due to increased ridership.

Which doesn’t make it acceptable.


‘Tis the season.

Redlands police donate 23 bikes to help veterans in the Inland Empire. The Santa Barbara Bike Coalition gives shiny new bikes to 24 kids; thanks to Megan Lynch for the link. A Sonoma County businessman donates 150 bikes to kids in need. A San Jose bike charity donates 2,700 bicycles to local kids. Oregon elementary school kids get 25 new bikes.

Why do these stories matter?

Because this is the next generation of bike riders. And every kid — or vet, for that matter — deserves the chance to ride a bike, regardless of whether they can afford one.



Streeetsblog wants your vote for the annual Streetsie Awards for Elected Official and Civil Servant of the year; I’m proud to have a couple of those on my mantle. Not that I actually have a mantle, but still.

A bike riding 24-year old mother fights for safer spaces for her daughter.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a free bike valet at the city’s big party at Downtown’s Grand Park. About time LA did the New Year right.



A Newport Beach bike rider suffers minor injuries in a right hook.

The wrong-way and allegedly intoxicated San Diego driver who hit a group of cyclists on Fiesta Island, leaving one paralyzed from the waist down, is found competent to stand trial. Although her lawyer successfully argues for a second opinion.

San Diego is sued over a recently installed road diet and bike lane, claiming the city did an inadequate CEQA review; however, California law was recently changed to exempt bike lanes from environmental review.

A bike rider suffers moderate injuries in a Desert Hot Springs collision after he allegedly runs a red light.

A Bakersfield family asks for help after a 46-year old grandfather is killed in a hit-and-run while riding his bike.

The new three-foot passing law gets a thumbs-up from San Jose cyclists; not so much from a local pedestrian.

Evidently, a NorCal driver failed to note the three-foot law, as he whacks a Siskiyou County physician with his right mirror; the victim suffered a broken collarbone.



Bicycling’s Elly Blue offers an interview with the founder of Black Girls Do Bike.

The editor of an Arizona newspaper reminisces about the places a bike can take you.

The Denver Post questions the $16.5 million cost of the new 18 mile bikeway paralleling a newly rebuilt highway. Funny, but they don’t seem to question what it cost to build the part cars will travel on.

The penultimate stage of next year’s USA Pro Challenge will end in my hometown.

Sadly, a research scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory lost his life in a mountain biking fall.



Now that’s more like it. A diabetic motorist in the UK is sentenced to fifteen months in jail and banned from driving for 20 years — yes, years — for killing a cyclist after he failed to monitor his blood sugar levels.

Caught on video: A Brit bike rider confronts a motorist who nearly hit him after not clearing the ice from his windshield; the driver claimed he could see clearly, but somehow couldn’t see the cyclist.

A British bike rider feels like a pariah when his bike is attacked for taking up space on a train.

Russell Crowe takes the cast of his new movie on 30-mile bike rides to bring more energy to the set.

A Philippine priest rides over 1,100 miles to raise awareness of climate change.

Over 600 bike riders have been busted for drunk bicycling under Taiwan’s new BUI law. And fined the equivalent of a whopping $9 to $18 dollars.



A bunny gets trapped in the wheel of a mountain bike, and somehow hops away relatively unscathed; and yes, you really do need to see the photo. Former Talking Head David Byrne discusses the joys of bike riding.

And unbelievably, three Dallas cyclists are harassed by a driver who deliberately knocked one off his bike, then got out of his car and started hitting him — and not only do police issue the attacker just a minor ticket for assault, they ticket the victim for taking a beating. Thanks to Michael Eisenberg for the heads-up.


Please accept my best wishes for a very merry Christmas. And may this season bring peace and joy and bikes and love to you and all your loved ones.


Traffic deaths up nationwide in 2012, while US bike deaths increase 6.5%; plus lots of fresh bike links

The news is out, and it’s not good.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic fatalities are up for the first time in the last seven years, with 33,561 deaths in 2012, compared to 32,479 the year before.

That total includes 726 bike riders who lost their lives in 2012 — a 6.5% increase — and 49,000 injured. Pedestrians and cyclists represented 17% of traffic deaths, compared to just 13% in 2003.

Of course, it’s possible, even likely, that the increase in cycling deaths and injuries is a result of an increase in ridership, though we have no idea whether the increase is proportionate to the rise in cycling rates.

However, the increase may call into question the much-cited safety in numbers effect.


Just Ride LA has scheduled a bike race to benefit the Philippines on the 21st. Time is running out to save the Riverside-Figueroa bridge. Gary Kavanagh discusses mainstreaming bicycle lessons learned from bike-friendly Davis CA. Manhattan Beach approves sharrows, but not on Pacific. Women on Bikes’ Pedal Love project is raising funds to inspire women and girls to ride as part of their daily lives. Calabasas gets a new bike and pedestrian plan. While bike haters claim we don’t pay our fair share for the roads, Rick Risemberg points out it’s drivers who need to dig a little deeper.

The case of fallen Newport Beach cyclist Debra Deem has been referred to the Orange County DA’s office. A Corona del Mar cyclist is slightly injured in a collision on the Coast Highway, while another rider is injured in San Clemente. A San Diego driver parks his car in a bike lane, and the press blames a cyclist for running into it. Santa Barbara bike rider is injured in a train collision when he doesn’t bother to look before crossing the tracks; thanks to Danny Gamboa for the link. A road raging San Francisco driver is under arrest for intentionally running down a bike rider. San Francisco 49er players build bikes to give to kids. Chico paper says two recent fallen cyclists did everything right — then tells cyclists to obey the letter of the law to improve safety.

In a shocking display of bipartisanship, Congress members from both parties introduce the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act to set separate safety targets for motorized and non-motorized transportation. Stoplights made for cars leave cyclists stuck on red. Portland infographic clearly shows bikes aren’t getting a free ride. A Utah cyclist is injured because a teenage driver couldn’t take her eyes off the pretty foliage. Driver ticketed for a fatal left cross in my hometown. The Boulder CO driver whose carelessness left ‘70s cycling legend Dale Stetina with life-threatening injuries faces charges, as well; Stetina could be out of the hospital next month. Eighty-five year old Iowa doctor still rides 100 miles a week, on skinny tires, no less. Getting it wrong: Time Magazine says Boston has finally solved bike sharing’s bike safety problem, which oddly hasn’t been a problem anywhere else. Glenn Beck, among others, urges New York’s new mayor to lose the bike lanes; better yet, let’s lose Glenn Beck and make the world a better place. Going to war over bike lanes and parking spaces in Alexandria VA.

A rash of fatalities strikes British cycling, with six dead in the last nine days — five in London alone. London’s mayor Boris is urged to take action, but shamefully chooses to blame the victims instead. How to stay safe on UK streets. Londonist considers how it would sound if we talked about all road users the way some people talk about cyclists, while a rider says, despite comments to the contrary, respect does not have to be earned. The Evening Standard says London can be a cycling city to rival any in Europe with a different approach. Authorities conclude that a bike-riding British spy died after somehow locking himself into a sports bag; yeah, that’s credible. Bike riding is up in Edinburgh as driving rates drop. Copenhagen design firm creates Lego-like snap-together tiles that can be assembled to create temporary cycle tracks; I like it. A UAE editorial calls for better protection for Emirates riders. Egyptian women are riding bikes in a fight for equality. Cyclists are dying at a faster rate on Australian roads. Thankfully, an Aussie cyclist suffers a massive heart attack while riding, but lives to ride another day. The husband of a fallen New Zealand cyclist calls for an attitude change on the country’s streets. Road raging Kiwi driver faces charges for pushing a rider off his bike, resulting in serious injuries.

Finally, Ireland gets tough on hit-and-run as a proposed law would increase penalties to up to 10 years, which sounds about right to me. And Bikeyface says your lights don’t work if no one can see them.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for bike friendly CA Assemblymember Mike Gatto, whose father was murdered in a home invasion robbery Thursday morning.

Traffic deaths are down, unless you’re on two wheels. Or two feet. Or driving a big ass truck.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released their latest figures for traffic fatalities in 2011.

And the news is not good for bicyclists.

While the overall traffic fatalities showed a nearly 2% decline, bicycle deaths shot up 8.7%, to 677 throughout the U.S. So much for the safety in numbers theory, as the increase is attributed to the higher number of riders on the road.

The news isn’t much better for pedestrians, as bipedalist deaths rose 3% to over 4,400. Then again, either one is better than drivers of large trucks, who saw an amazing 20% increase in fatalities in a single year.

Yet even with increases in virtually every category other than car and light truck drivers and passengers, the total number of traffic fatalities dipped to just over 32,000, the lowest level since 1949.

The Times quotes me as saying in response that bicycle fatalities are a largely urban phenomenon. What I meant by that is that there are more cyclists, and more traffic collisions, in cities, which explains the relatively high number of deaths here in Southern California, while more rural areas may only suffer a handful of deaths each year.

Which is not to say their experience is any less tragic or heartbreaking.

Or unnecessary.

It’s also unclear if the NHTSA figures includes bicycling deaths from various causes, or is limited to fatalities due to collisions.

My counts of 70 SoCal cycling fatalities last year, and 71 so far this year, include deaths due to all causes except for shootings — including solo falls, collisions with trains, and deaths due to natural causes while riding, which may not be included in the NHTSA figures.

We’ll have to wait until statistics for individual states are released to see if their totals are anywhere close to the numbers I’ve counted, which showed a significant increase over the NHTSA’s figures for 2010.

Or if it will be closer to the 49 deaths registered in 2010, before I started tracking them on my own.

Meanwhile, a Sacramento writer says to take those numbers with a grain of salt.


Los Angeles’ newfound commitment to bicycling helps make us smarter than our neighbor to the south; sorry San Diego. Women on Bikes SoCal interviews new Bike Nation bike share head April Economides. Long Beach releases ten years of data on the causes of local bike crashes; cyclists are to blame for the top three, which makes me wonder who compiled the figures and how. More on the Long Beach cyclist being named the city’s person of the year. An Orange County man is under arrest for stealing a five year old’s bike; the victim drew his own wanted poster. Fontana cyclist fights off would-be robbers on his way to work. A Marin writer says when police crack down on cyclists, it makes the road a more dangerous place. Sonoma County votes to screw cyclists and pedestrians. A Vacaville woman is looking for the good Samaritan cyclist who helped save the life of her bike riding husband.

Even Goldfish crackers are riding bikes these days — with a helmet, no less. Sometimes, the real victory is just not quitting; I’ve learned many times over that it’s always too soon to quit, whether on a bike or in life. Portland reaches double digits when it comes to kids bicycling to school; kind of sad that such a low number is such a big achievement. My Colorado hometown celebrates a winter Bike to Work Day; if they can do that on a chilly December day, why can’t we do it here in sunny SoCal? A Rochester NY cyclist is hit by a police cruiser; needless to say, it took little time to find the rider at fault. Pedestrians call for bike-only traffic signals in New York’s Central Park to address red light-running bike riders. Making the public health case for bicycling.

A Toronto writer explains why we mourn fallen cyclists. Alex Moulton, developer of the iconic small-wheeled Moulton bicycle, passed away at 92. A British driver who fatally doored a cyclist may not have seen his victim, after recently having his windows tinted to allow only 17% transparency. If there’s a war on Britain’s roads, only a small minority of drivers and cyclists are taking part; personally, I’d call that one a must read. An Aussie writer says it’s time to declare war on cyclists, because we’re so much more dangerous than motor vehicles; nice to know irresponsible journalism isn’t just an American phenomenon. Meanwhile, a local bike organization offers a more rational response. And an Aussie planning institute says give up on bikeways and turn them into Segway and scooter lanes, because their lazy ass countrymen won’t ride them anyway.

Finally, the Alliance for Biking and Walking is looking for nominations for their 2013 bike and pedestrian advocacy awards, both individual advocates and organizations are eligible. When you fill out your nomination, it’s spelled B-i-k-i-n-g-i-n-L-A.

Okay, okay, I’m kidding.

Sort of.

Just ride

“Man to man is so unjust.” — Bob Marley, Who the Cap Fit

My sister, who lives in Denver, called us Thursday evening.

As the call was wrapping up, she mentioned that she had to pick my 15-year old nephew up at the movies at 3 am.

Because he was on his way to a midnight showing of the new Batman movie.

The next morning, I awoke to the news that a madman had opened fire in an Aurora theater, not far from their home, during a midnight showing of the movie.

My stomach started doing flips.

It was bad enough that something like this had happened once again. Or that it happened in my home state, in a town I lived in briefly about three decades ago.

I knew there was little chance Adam had been at that particular theater at that exact time. But when an email to my sister went unanswered for longer than I could live with, I had to call to ensure he hadn’t been there.

And I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I felt when he answered the phone, and said he’d gone to a theater closer to his home. One that was, thankfully, madman and assault rifle free.

All weekend, we all were bombarded with a constant drumbeat of news bits, each adding to the still incomplete portrait of just what happened in that theater that night.

Yet none of the jabbering talking heads paused long enough to put this madness in perspective.

Twelve dead is a horrible, tragic needless waste.

But it doesn’t begin to compare with the 90 Americans who lose their lives on our streets every day. And it’s just one less than the death count of cyclists on SoCal streets this month alone.

Ninety killed every day.

Six-hundred-thirty every week.

Two-thousand-forty every month.

Yet there’s no breaking news reports for that story. No attractive anchormen or women breathlessly whipping to reporters in the field, no tidbit of meaningless information that’s not trivial to relate. No outrage or prayer vigils or 24-hour news cycles dedicated to the lives and deaths of victims of the rapidly compounding body count.

And seldom an arrest, let alone prosecution, even when the killer is known.

Instead, we just call them accidents.

Never mind that virtually every collision that occurs anywhere can be traced back to one or more people breaking the law, or operating their vehicles in a careless, distracted or intoxicated manner.

Accidents are virtually never just accidents.

Even on the rare occasions when killers are arrested, those who know them will argue that it wasn’t really their fault. If you only knew the whole story, they insist, you’d understand that he or she was really a good person who just made one little mistake, or did something so out of character it should be forgiven.

Even in cases where the driver left the victim to die on the side of the road, then ran off like a coward and hid the evidence of the collision in an attempt to avoid the consequences of his or her actions.

No outrage.

Seldom any consequences.

And even then, it usually amounts to nothing more than a limp slap on the wrist.

In the meantime, the body count continues to rise. And nothing is done to address the insanity on our streets; no politicians step forward to demand an end to our daily motor maniacal madness.

I don’t have an answer.

I believe, strongly, in a Vision Zero plan. And in placing greater responsibility on those with the greatest potential to cause injury and death.

As well as changing our laws to force drivers to stop and stay at the scene of a collision.

Yet we all wait in vain for a political leader with sufficient courage to take a stand on the issue. Let alone actually do something about it.

Then again, none of our elected leaders seems to have the courage to do something about all the Columbine/Virginia Tech/Aurora massacres that actually do make the news, either.

I wish I had a solution.

I really do.

Other than demanding that our candidates for every office go on the record for what, if elected, they would do to address these parallel, if vastly uneven, bloodbaths. Then vote accordingly in the fall.

But at least I know a way to release that knot that’s been gnawing at me since Friday morning. And salve, in some part, the overwhelming sadness.

And that’s get out on my bike.

For a moment, for a hour, for an afternoon.

Let the wind blow away whatever tears may fall.

And just ride.

My prayers for all those injured or killed in the Aurora shooting. And all the countless named and nameless victims of the madness on our street.

A relatively light post-holiday list of links, including an odd news focus ignoring 90% of traffic fatalities

We’ve got a relatively light load of bike news over the 4th of July holiday.

Which, given that Independence Day is the deadliest day of the year on American roads, suggests that no news really could be good news.

But before we move on, let’s consider the odd perspective of the above link, which appears to have been driven by a nationwide AAA press release, and notes with horror that 10% of those holiday fatalities are teen drivers.

Which means that 90% aren’t.

So let’s be clear.

There is no acceptable level of traffic fatalities, no matter what the age of the victim. Even one death is one to many.

And teenage drivers do seem to over represented in traffic fatalities, as Colorado records show they account for 12% of the state’s deaths despite representing just 6% of the state’s drivers.

But doesn’t it make more sense to reduce the over whelming majority of traffic fatalities — or better yet, all traffic deaths — rather than just focusing on the relatively small percentage represented by teen drivers?


Andre Greipel wins stage four of the Tour after Cav goes down in a mass crash; it’s Greipel’s second stage win in just his first two tours. The Washington Post compares Peter Sagan to a young Lance Armstrong, but without all the doping accusations.


LACBC promises to keep an eye on the city’s environmental impact report process for 43.3 miles of bike lane projects. Richard Risemberg realizes he’s not so special any more, and likes it. In the biking black hole of Beverly Hills, it’s a little more talk and a lot less action, and more dollars than sense. The Bike League urges your support of the first ever National Women’s Bicycling Summit this September in Long Beach.

A San Diego pedicab driver wins the right to sue the SDPD for allegedly harassing him by stealing his license and then charging him for operating without one, among other escalating offenses. A Mission Beach couple battles cyclists after they’re enveloped by Critical Mass riders while walking on the boardwalk. A new video promotes San Diego cycling as a fun, safe and sensible activity. Why do so many drivers insist that cyclists must obey traffic laws too, yet fail to note that most drivers don’t, either. A local writer says the High Desert won’t ever become a bike community. Turns out police ticket cyclists after all. In an amazing — and amazingly brief — story, a Chico driver loses control while allegedly driving under the influence, and flips his car over a cyclist riding in a bike lane; the rider remarkably escapes with just scratches. An Oakland cyclist is chased by two vehicles, then robbed of his bike and jewelry at gunpoint. A Merced County cyclist is mauled by a pack of dogs, 20 minutes after they’d bitten another rider; thanks to Meghan Lynch for the heads-up.

The otherwise disastrous new federal transportation bill could mean less red tape for local transportation projects — including bikeways. Helmet laws could be on the way out due to a lack of enforcement and increased local liability. Denver tries to keep up with a growing number of cyclists. A Chicago writer says the bike lane is not your parking spot; it’s not the place to fix a broken down bus, either. Time magazine discovers the New York bikelash about two years after everyone else. After a Gotham cyclist and driver exchange words and spit, the driver flashes an NYPD courtesy badge and tells the rider and a traffic cop that his badge number is his apparently minuscule sexual appendage. A New York cyclist is making a slow recovery from nearly crippling injuries. A DC-area driver is convicted of intentionally running down a rider, then beating the crap out of him afterwards.

After a cyclist is let off with a slap on the wrist for severely injuring a pedestrian, a rocket scientist writer for the London Mail says cyclists should be held to the same standard as drivers — not realizing that was exactly what happened, as most UK drivers are held to the same incredibly low standards. Can China go from the world’s leading bicycle nation to one billion cars and back to one billion bicycles?

Finally, if this doesn’t bring a post-Independence Day smile to your face, nothing will. Especially with appropriate holiday musical accompaniment from the Eastside’s own Dave Alvin.


Best wishes to departing Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition Planning and Policy Director Alexis Lantz, with thanks for the amazing progress the LACBC — and L.A. cycling — has made during her all too short tenure. And congratulations to the Los Angeles County Department of Health on landing a great new employee.

Best wishes, as well, to incoming Planning and Policy Director Eric Bruins, who has very big pumps to fill.

And the skills to do it.

NHTSA data shows drop in traffic and bike deaths — and cyclists fare as well in collisions as motorists

I’m stunned.

Like just about everyone else, I have always assumed that the lack of protection afforded cyclists meant that we fare far worse in collisions than the occupants of motor vehicles.

After all, we don’t have seat belts and airbags — let alone a couple tons of steel and glass — to protect us. Just a thin shell of foam covered in plastic and a maybe bit of chamois between our legs.

But I was wrong.

During an email exchange with fellow cyclist and KCRW chief engineer Steve Herbert, he posed an intriguing question.

For all the cycling deaths we are seeing and the lack of protection a bicycle provides us in a crash with another automobile, I wonder if fatality numbers are proportionally higher than that of motor vehicle occupants?

Fortunately, the answer was readily at hand.

Just yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the latest traffic fatality statistics for 2010, showing an overall drop in traffic deaths from 1.13 deaths per million vehicle miles traveled in 2009 to 1.09 fatalities per million miles in 2010. And a drop of over 1,000 traffic deaths over the pervious year, from 33,808 to 32,788.

And yes, that’s a significant improvement.

Even if an average of 90 traffic deaths a day is hardly good news.

The news is also better for cyclists, as biking deaths have dropped to 618 — the lowest total in 35 years — despite a dramatic upsurge in ridership.

That’s still an average of 1.7 riders dying on our streets everyday. Nearly 12 every week. Over 51 every month.

And it is still far from acceptable.

The real surprise came when I dug a little deeper into those figures.

According to the NHTSA figures, excluding motorcyclists, roughly 2,009,000 motor vehicle occupants — drivers and passengers — were seriously injured on American roads last year, compared to 23,946 fatalities. That gives a ratio of 83.9 motor vehicle injuries for every death.*

For the same year, roughly 51,000 cyclists were seriously injured compared to 618 deaths, for a ratio of 83.5 to one.

Look at that again — 83.9:1 for motor vehicles, compared to 83.5:1 for cyclists.

In other words, you have virtually the same risk of dying in a traffic collision riding your bike, with little or no protection, as you have in a car or truck surrounded with safety features.

Of course, that does not take into account the frequency of collisions. While the NHTSA can cite a rate of 1.09 deaths per million miles of vehicle travel, no such figures exist for bikes, as there is no quantifiable method of determining how many miles are travelled by bike each year; any estimate you might see is nothing more than an semi-educated guess at best.

But those figures clearly show, once a wreck severe enough to cause serious injury occurs, you face no statistically greater risk on a bike than you would in a car.**

Don’t know about you, but I’m pretty damn shocked.

* Motorcyclists face a significantly greater risk, with 82,000 injuries compared to 4502 fatalities, for a ratio of 19:1.

**Update: One important distinction I failed to make. As maxutility pointed out, the data doesn’t show the same injury to death ratio for all car and bike collisions, but only those severe enough to result in injury. I’ve adjusted the copy to reflect that. The data does not show whether you are more likely to be seriously injured in a collision riding a bike or in a motor vehicle, just the ratio of serious injuries to fatalities.

Don’t get me wrong…

Seriously, I’m glad Osama bin Laden is dead.

Even though this may be the first time the death of another human being has made me truly and unapologetically happy.

But let’s keep things in perspective.

Just under 3,000 people died on 9/11/2001.

That same year, over 14 times that many people died in traffic collisions; 42,109 to be exact.

And in the years that followed, from 2001 to 2009, 369,629 people died on American streets. Roughly 100 times the total number of deaths that can be attributed to al Qaeda in all the attacks before and after 9/11.

Bin Laden’s actions led to wars, a massive world-wide man hunt, draconian security procedures and a near-constant state of fear, here and around the world.

Yet hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. get behind the wheel every day without a moment’s thought. And almost nothing is done to ensure that they return home safely.

Based on the latest statistics, 96 people will die on American streets today. They could be your neighbors, your co-workers, your family, your friends. They could be total strangers.

It could be you.

Or me.

The attacks on 9/11 were devastating. I’m happy that bin Laden has finally been brought to justice. And I thank the men and women who sacrificed, and in some cases gave their lives, to make this possible.

But now maybe we can refocus on the carnage that takes place on our roads every day.

96 today.

672 this week.

2976 this month. Just one less than the number of victims killed on 9/11.

This month. And every month.

That’s the terror we need to fight now.

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