Tag Archive for traffic laws

OC bike cop run down by driver, Gardena starting to get it, and banning Banning from illegal bike laws

Evidently, not even bike cops are safe from road raging and/or otherwise wacked out drivers.

According to multiple sources, an Orange County sheriff’s deputy was patrolling on his bike at John Wayne Airport when he went to investigate a collision in the parking garage, and wound up on the bumper of a car driven by 48-year old Rebecca McLaughlin.

McLaughlin had reportedly driven her Toyota Sequoia through a locked parking gate. The wrong way, no less.

She then backed up, aimed her car at the unnamed officer and accelerated, knocking him onto the hood of her Toyota Sequoia and running over his bike. He then wrestled her out of the car after she crashed into a ticket machine, and placed her under arrest.

And no, wrestling the driver out of the car that hit you is not recommended for any riders not in uniform, no matter how tempting it may be.

The officer suffered minor injuries, while his attacker was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, as well as an outstanding warrant.

She’s being held on over a half-million dollars bail.

Evidently, the courts take an assault on a bike riding police officer a lot more seriously than they do the rest of us.

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Gardena police promise better enforcement of traffic laws, but fall short of an apology for illegally ticketing a group of minority riders.

Or shooting one, for that matter.

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Looks like Banning has an illegal law on the books prohibiting bike riders from interfering with motor vehicles or pedestrians in any way.

It shall be a violation of law subject to punishment as set forth herein for any person operating a bicycle to obstruct, hinder, impede or restrict the lawful course of travel of any motor vehicle or the lawful use by any pedestrian of public streets, sidewalks, alleys, parking areas, pathways, or trails in any manner whatsoever. When operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk or other area routinely traveled by pedestrians, such operator shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian.

Someone should tell them it’s in violation of several state laws, starting with CVC 21200, and including the one that give the state — not local jurisdictions — full authority over traffic regulations.

 Thanks to Chris Kidd for the link.

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Tuesday was the 10th anniversary of the Santa Monica Farmers Market Massacre. I remember listening to the horrific, near-constant parade of ambulances, even though I lived over six miles away off Santa Monica Blvd, as the wounded and dead overwhelmed closer hospitals.

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Streetsblog’s Damien Newton takes on the Los Angeles News Group’s biased Summer of Cycling series. Even having your mother along is no guarantee police won’t pull a Taser on you during a protest ride. No bikes involved, just a driver sentenced to over five years for the allegedly intentional crash that cost two strip club patrons three legs. Actor Seth Rogan sports a sling here in LA after breaking his arm falling off a bike. The Weekly reviews Pedalers Fork in Calabasas, and kind of likes it, I think. A Newhall man has been charged with felony hit-and-run causing injury after turning himself in four hours after leaving a bike rider in the road with a broken back; thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.

It nearly happened again, as a bike rider encounters a car on the same off-road bike path where San Diego cyclist Nick Venuto was killed two years ago. A deadly stretch of road in Ramona will be widened, straightened and have bike lanes added; evidently to cut crashes while encouraging speeding. Cambrian bike riders sample eight possible fixes for the Highway 1 road surface Caltrans ruined. A Bay Area bike rider survives traveling by BART. A Petaluma bike thief is found hiding face-up in a river next to the submerged hot bike. A Santa Rosa writer asks where bike riders learn the rules of the road, not comprehending that most cyclists passed the same drivers test she did; that’s not to say better education isn’t needed for both drivers and bicyclists, but get real, already.

Not surprisingly, wealthier motorists are more likely to drive like jerks; certainly matches my experience. The Bike League is looking for a manager for their Equity Initiative. Apple is finally giving you back your Google Maps, including turn-by-turn bike directions. Now your bike can convert to a stroller once you get to your destination. People with far too much money on their hands can spend $400 for a Burley dog trailer. Not surprisingly, bike friendly businesses are doing good business. The Department of DIY wins one for a change, as Seattle decides to make a guerrilla bike lane permanent. A bike-riding writer in my hometown says cyclists who break the law deserve to be ticketed. The cross-country bike rider injured in the Colorado Dark Knight shootings intends to pick up where he left off before being shot. Bicycling is growing in popularity, even in Amarillo. Horrifying video of a crash with a cyclist captured from inside a bus. A Chicago suburb says no to fining parents whose kids don’t wear bike helmets. Is it just me, or does it strain credibility just a tad that a bike rider would run a stop sign in front of the oncoming dump truck that killed him? A South Carolina man is charged with hit-and-run in the death of a cyclist — evidently, without ever making contact with the bike or rider.

The Brit twit who tweeted about running down a bike rider faces charges including failure to report an accident; what, tweeting about it wasn’t enough? The head of British transportation charity Sustrans says slow down, you move too fast. Kill a cyclist while driving a cab, and get a whopping £35 — or $53 — fine. Before you can stop for red lights, you’ve got to have a red light to stop for. Tour de France leader Chris Froome is understandably upset over questions about doping; then again, given the race’s recent history, those questions seem inevitable. The director of the Tour de France brushes off demands for a women’s Tour. An Israeli entrepreneur want to help you electrify your own bike. An elderly Chinese man is charged as a reckless pedestrian in the death of an e-bike rider.

Finally, a Spanish cyclist is wrestled to the ground by a group of women parishioners after riding his bike into a local church waving a gun; not too surprising considering the church is named Los Angeles. And the 11th annual Beverly Hills Cycling Classic will be held today.

No, not that Beverly Hills.

A little clarification on tickets and misdemeanors, and what police can and can’t do

Maybe I got it wrong.

Or maybe the person who explained it to me did.

But yesterday, I got clarification on what police can and can’t do in cases where they don’t witness a violation.

My understanding was that the police were prohibited from writing a ticket or filing misdemeanor charges unless they actually saw it happen. Which is why it’s so hard to get criminal charges in a harassment case, for instance, because few motorists are foolish enough to threaten a bike rider when a cop is watching.

However, it turns out that’s not quite right.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the LAPD bike task force, officers who work in traffic investigations explained that they actually can write tickets for traffic violations after the fact — if the evidence or witness testimony makes it clear that a driver broke the law.

For instance, if the evidence suggests that a collision occurred because someone ran a red light, they can ticket the responsible party even though they didn’t see it happen.

Criminal charges are another matter.

While police are free to make felony arrests whether they see the crime or not, state law prohibits them from making a misdemeanor arrest unless they see the violation.

However, the key word there is arrest; misdemeanor charges can be filed later if the evidence warrants, whether or not the officer was there when the crime was committed.

Clear now?

It seems like splitting hairs, but that’s the current state of the law here in the late, great Golden State.

The good news is, that means your bike cam video can be considered as evidence leading to a misdemeanor charge.

It can also lead to a traffic ticket after the fact, though that’s not likely in most cases. Particularly if the violation didn’t lead to a collision or injuries.

A couple other quick notes from the meeting:

  • Police are seeing a number of bikes converted to use a small gas-powered engine. However, once you hit the gas, it’s no longer considered a bicycle. Anything with a motor over 150 cc’s is legally a motorcycle; anything below that is considered a moped. And both are subject to laws that bicycles aren’t, as well as licensing requirements. E-bikes are not subject to the same requirements and are still regarded as bicycles under state law.
  • By far the leading cause of bicycling collisions in the Valley Traffic Division is riding against traffic. In fact, riding salmon resulted in nearly six times as many collisions reported to the police as dooring, the second leading cause. And not only does riding upstream dramatically increase your risk of getting hit, it also means you’re automatically considered at fault, at lest in part, regardless of any other factors.
  • Finally, those long-awaited stats on hit-and-run requested by the L.A. City Council are unlikely to be delivered before the end of the month. The LAPD still working on compiling detailed data breaking down just how prevalent the problem actually is. But it would be great if they could step it up just a little, since there are currently two state laws under consideration to address the problem, and a little solid data might help.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neither should we.

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

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

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

Thanks to Evan G. for the tip.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explaining the rules of the road, and your President’s Day links

Gary Kavanagh of Gary Rides Bikes offers a clear and insightful explanation of the often misunderstood rules of the road, particularly as they apply to his home in Santa Monica.

And as usual, he does an exceptional job of explaining the hows and whys of bike and traffic safety, and how to share the road safely.

To have a truly sustainable city, being able to get around by foot and bike is an essential component. However, if some people live in fear of walking or cycling in the city, which is often the case presently, it not only undermines sustainability, it effects the quality of life in the community….

I do feel that motorists ultimately have the biggest responsibility in promoting safety since drivers are in the position to cause the greatest harm. When drivers don’t know the rules of the road, they sometimes lash out and try to intimidate cyclists in fits of rage. I cannot count the number of times I have been screamed or honked at for doing nothing at all wrong under the law. Then, when some cyclists flee the road to ride the sidewalks as a response to such harassment, we get the string of complaints about sidewalk riding by those on foot. While yes, a cyclist riding on the sidewalk in Santa Monica is in the wrong—outside Santa Monica the rules are more fuzzy, which adds much confusion—ultimately, I believe it is a failure of our transportation system and our culture that cyclists have a right to the road under law, but frequently do not feel they belong there or are welcomed there.

Seriously, read it. Then send it to every cyclist and driver you know.

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Mr. Bicycle Fixation, Rick Risemberg, invites cyclists to join him for a birthday ride next Sunday, Feb. 27th. Over 80 cyclists ride 50 miles from the Eastside to OC in support of the Dream Act. Good says better designed streets are coming to L.A. Bikeside takes LADOT to task for what it considers the wrong applications for Metro’s call for projects, though LADOT Bike Blog offers a few corrections; meanwhile, Bikeside is working on version 2.0 of their innovative L.A. Bike Map. The C-Blog writes about how to choose an adult bike. Palo Alto’s California Ave is scheduled for a diet. The Claremont Cyclist offers great photos from the first day of the LAVRA Cup at the Los Angele Velodrome. Just Another Cyclist says he wants his sport back; I know exactly how he feels.

Boulder CO’s bike corral program appears to be a roaring success; Columbia MO may get another one. Austin TX may finally get its first bike boulevard this summer. A look at New York’s possibly illegal pedicab king. A Virginia bike commuter beats his motorist coworker home by five hours in a recent blizzard. An Alabama cyclist writes about the dangers posed by distracted drivers. According to reports, a Ft. Meyers FL woman rode her bike into the path of a van in America’s deadliest state for cyclists; odd how careless and/or suicidal cyclists can be in police and news reports.

Not surprisingly, Riccardo Ricco has been fired following a botched self-administered transfusion. A group of bike activists ride through Quebec in the dead of winter to call for year-round bikeway maintenance. The UK’s BikeAware calls for bike training to be part of the driver’s test. Irish man is awarded €48,000 — $65,640 — when he went over his handlebars after having his bike serviced. Kraft Canada donates 4,000 bikes to cocoa workers in Ghana to help their children stay in school. Taylor Phinney crashes out on the final stage of his first professional race in the Tour of Oman; fortunately, he seems to have come out of it okay.

Finally, Malaysian cyclist Azizulhasni Awang has an 8” splinter from the Manchester Velodrome driven all the way through his calf in a fall — and still manages to finish third, winning a third consecutive World Cup Overall title in the process; thanks to Todd Munson for the heads-up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A call for tougher hit-and-run laws; cycling legend Gino Bartali hid family from Nazis during WWII

Tuesday night, yet another person was run down and killed by a hit-and-run driver — this time, a pedestrian in Playa del Rey.

Just the latest in a long, long list of cyclists and pedestrians, as well as others, killed by cowards who lack the basic human decency to stop and render aid as required by law.

Let alone just see if their victim is still alive.

According to the Denver Post, Colorado law actually makes it wiser for drivers who’ve been drinking to flee the scene, rather than risk a higher penalty for drunk driving; chances are, they’ll sober up before the police ever track them down.

I’ve long argued exactly the same point holds true right here in the late great formerly Golden State.

That’s because California’s stiff penalties for drunk driving far outweigh the relatively light penalties for hit-and-run. Many drivers don’t even lose their license after leaving an injured motorist, pedestrian or cyclist lying in their wake; something Bikeside has tried to address with their Life Before License campaign.

Personally, I think LB4L is a good start.

I just don’t think it goes far enough.

What we need is law that makes license revocation an administrative process, rather than judicial, so that hit-and-run drivers will lose their licenses regardless of whether or not they’re convicted. And make it automatic, so that the license is permanently revoked — not suspended — as soon as it’s shown that a driver has the scene of a collision. By leaving the scene, their actions have already proven they’re unfit to be behind the wheel.

Then make them go before a judge for permission to apply for a provisional license — and only after any sentence has been served.

But as we’ve seen, the lack of a license isn’t always enough to stop some people from getting behind the wheel.

As a result, any car used in a hit-and-run should be impounded as soon as an arrest is made. Then if the driver is convicted, the car should be seized by the state and sold, with the proceeds used to compensate the victim.

After all, it’s been used to in the actual commission of a crime.

Robbers and murderers aren’t allowed to keep their guns after they’re convicted; a car used in a hit-and-run shouldn’t be treated any differently. And California law already permits the seizure of any vehicles used for drug crimes or to solicit prostitution.

Isn’t leaving someone dead or bleeding on the side of the road just a little more serious than offering money for a blow job?

Maybe when drivers face the prospect of making payments for the next several years to pay off a car they no longer own, they might think twice about hitting the gas instead of the brakes.

And maybe then, finally, they’ll actually stick around after a collision.

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On a related subject, NY Streetsblog responds to outraged NIMBY’s complaining about dangerous bike lanes by showing where the real danger comes from, with a devastating list of cyclists and pedestrians killed on the city’s streets in 2010.

Meanwhile, Treehugger asks why not aim for zero deaths?

My thoughts exactly. Our only goal should be to make sure the last cyclist or pedestrian killed on our streets really is the last one.

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More evidence that Italian cycling legend Gino Bartali, three-time winner of the Giro d’Italia and two-time winner of the Tour de France, was a genuine hero of the Holocaust.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Bartali used his bike to smuggle documents on behalf of Italian Jews during the Nazi occupation. Now comes word that he also hid a family of Jews in his cellar for nearly two years, saving their lives at the risk of his own.

These days, when the internet and sports section seems to bring more bad bike news with every passing day, it’s nice to be reminded what a real cycling hero is.

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Join the LACBC for the first monthly Sunday Funday Ride with the Valley Pride Ride at noon this Sunday starting at Los Encinos State Park, led by board member Heidi Zeller; the ride is free for members and a guest.

Speaking of which, I’ll be hosting the next one with a four-city, 35 +/- mile tour of the Westside on Super Bowl Sunday.

And L.A. Critical Mass rolls on New Years Eve, just in time to confront the many, many drunks on the road.

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I got an email earlier today from someone looking for a 64-65 cm lugged steel bike frame, or possibly a full bike; he says an ’80s era Trek 720 frame would be ideal, but he’s open to anything that meets those specs. If you have one you’re willing to part with, or know where he can find one, let me know and I’ll forward the information.

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More on the teenage cyclist shot to death in South L.A. last night. Damien Newton names the Livable Streets People of the Year, as well as the year’s many low lights. The city may — or may not — be liable for injuries or damage caused by potholes; Council President Eric Garcetti directs you to the right form to file your claim. Bike lanes may come to Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills next year; thanks should go to Better Bike Beverly Hills. Stanley Goldich forwards a spectacular photo of the recent storm damage. Bob Mionske points out you could be arrested if you’re stopped by a cop for a traffic violation and can’t produce ID. Cyclelicious lists the top 10 bike stories of 2010.

A comprehensive list of Twitter bike hashtags for cities around the world from my new friends at Bike Commute News. The tax benefits of riding to work. Motorists may be facing a crisis of confidence as the former(?) alpha dogs of transportation. An interview with leading bike advocate Elly Blue on women, cycling and why Portland still has a way to go. Even Seattle cyclists have to deal with snow this year. Just one of 16 bike/ped bridges in the Twin Cities. Michigan adopts a Complete Streets policy. A 17-year old Ohio man is under arrest, suspected of intentionally stalking and killing a cyclist. Mapping crash data to build awareness of bike danger areas.

Now you can have a Porsche of your very own, without sacrificing cycling. Road.cc looks back on the highs and lows of the 2010 racing season, while VeloNews offers a complete calendar of 2011 racing events. Turns out that Aussie study that showed the country’s mandatory helmet law did not reduce head injuries contained “serious arithmetic and data plotting errors.” A bad knee will keep Lance out of a Kiwi triathlon, but he still plans to race with his RadioShack team in the Tour Down Under. An Israeli cyclist is sentenced to three months in jail for allegedly organizing a 2008 Critical Mass ride; thanks to Patrick Pascal for the heads-up.

Finally, more on the Dutch cyclist disqualified from the 2012 Paralympics after miraculously regaining use of her legs — remarkably, after being hit by another cyclist on a training ride.

Stopping for stop signs — or not

Experience says there's a 50/50 he didn't stop — and about a 95% chance he didn't stop completely.

If our elected leaders really want to balance their budgets, all they have to do is start enforcing stop signs.

Take the one on the corner near my building.

Simple observation — standing on the corner and counting cars — reveals that maybe one in 20 drivers comes to a full stop if there are no pedestrians or cross traffic. About the same number blows through the stop even when someone else has the right of way.

The remaining 90% are evenly divided between drivers who slow down to a near stop before rolling through — known around the world as a California stop — and those who just slow slightly or blow through if there’s no one else at the intersection.

And while I’ve never conducted a similar study of cyclists, I suspect the same percentages would probably hold true.

After all, most of us drive as well as ride. And we tend to carry the same habits with us, good or bad, as we switch from four wheels to two.

As for myself, I fall somewhere between the 5% that comes to a full stop and the 45% that slows to a near stop before rolling through the intersection.

I confess. I didn’t use to.

I’ve always made a point of stopping if someone else had the right-of-way. But when no one else was around, I’d usually slow just enough to verify that the intersection was clear, then ride across without stopping.

That ended the day I was crossing an intersection near my home — one that I always blew through because it lay in the middle of two hills. If I didn’t stop, the momentum I carried from zooming down the first one would carry me over the second.

This time, though, I noticed a man walking near the corner with his young son. Then just as I sailed through the stop, I saw the boy point at me and heard him say, “I want to be just like him!”

And I realized I’d just taught a little kid to run stop signs.

That was the last time I ever did it.

These days, I brake to a near stop as I approach the intersection. If there’s no one there, I’ll wait until the exact moment my bike stops forward motion, then release my brakes and let momentum carry me forward.

Otherwise, I’ll hold the brakes, doing a brief track stand until I have the right-of-way, then continue on my way — but only after making eye contact with any drivers who may pose a risk before I move forward. And I try to never put my foot down unless I have to wait for traffic to clear.

There are a couple reasons for that.

First, it’s my experience that bad things happen at intersections; studies have shown that’s where most bike/car collisions occur. And there’s been far too many times when I’ve had to dodge out of the way of drivers who weren’t paying attention, or move quickly to avoid cars spinning out of control after a collision.

If I’m still in the pedals, I can respond instantly by moving forward or turning to either side. If my foot is planted on the ground, though, I’m a sitting duck. By the time I can get my foot back on the pedal and try to move out of the way, it could be too late.

In fact, I’ve only seen a cyclist hit by a car on two occasions; both times, they were stopped at an intersection with a foot on the ground.

One of them was me.

The other reason is, contrary to a common misperception — and despite what some riders and police officials insist – there is absolutely no requirement in the California Vehicle Code that cyclists have to put a foot down to come to a full stop.

The applicable codes are CVC 21200, which says cyclists are  “…subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle…,” and CVC 22450a, which says that the driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign must stop at the entrance to an intersection or at the limit line, without entering the crosswalk.

That’s it. Nothing about how to stop or how long you have to stop, and no special requirements for stopping on a bike.

Look at it this way — a driver doesn’t have to stop at a stop sign, shift into neutral and put on the emergency brake before releasing the brake, shifting back into drive and going on his or her way.

And neither do you.

If you cease forward motion and allow vehicles with the right-of-way to go through the intersection before you do, you’re complying with the law, whether or not you put your foot down. And even if you only come to a near stop and continue to roll forward slowly while waiting for your turn, you should be good as long as you observe the right-of-way.

I’ve done that countless times in full view of police officers, and never had a problem.

That said, whether or not you actually came to a stop is a judgment call. And it is possible to get a ticket if a cop thinks you didn’t stop completely.

It’s also possible to encounter one of those misinformed officers who thinks a cyclist can’t come to a stop without putting a foot on the pavement. And have the misfortune of ending up in front of a judge who agrees.

Because it’s not always what the law says that determines what’s legal.

But how it’s interpreted — or misinterpreted — by those who enforce it.

Update: Mark points us to a section of the vehicle code that I missed; CVC 587 defines “Stop or stopping” as “any cessation of movement of a vehicle, whether occupied or not.”

………

Stage 11 of the Vuelta takes the peloton to Principality of Andorra and the Pyrenees, as Igor Anton bounces back on the final climb to claim a three second victory and reclaim the leader’s jersey. Yesterday’s leader Joaquin Rodriguez drops to fourth overall; Nicolas Roche and Frank Schleck are the best known riders still in the top 10, at 8th and 9th, respectively. Tour de France champ Alberto Contador says Anton could win it all.

Meanwhile, the best known American Pro-Am takes place this coming weekend in Souderton PA. And Kiwi track cyclist Adam Stewart receives a two-year ban for importing EPO and Human Growth Hormone.

………

Formerly bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills unveils its first ever bike plan; cyclists band together to demand that it includes a safer Santa Monica Blvd.

On a related subject, LADOT Bike Blog relates dates and locations for L.A.’s Bike Plan public meetings and webinar, as well as why it matters.

………

Malibu publications report on the concerns of cyclists at last week’s Public Safety Commission meeting. (Note to Malibu Surfside News: when an item is reposted on another website, you cite the original source — not the repost, capice? Even the AP says it’s okay to credit bloggers.) The City Council Transportation Committee gears up for the Metro Call for Projects. Metro’s The Source gears up to accept comments — but watch your f***ing potty mouth. This weekend’s Spoke’n’art ride features a collection of 9/11 memorabilia; if you’re looking for something a little tastier, maybe you’d prefer Sunday’s LA Tamale Throwdown, complete with bike valet. Those in colder climbs are gearing up for winter biking already; here in coastal L.A., we’re still waiting for summer to get here. In yet another example of the DMV encouraging drivers to park in bike lanes, Brent forwards this question (#6) he encountered while studying to renew his driver’s license.

Speaking of bike lanes, the NYPD loves them so much they park in one themselves. Don’t steal bamboo bikes, bro. A Gallaudet University employee dies after falling from his bike — and waiting 15 minutes for campus security to show up. A Tuscaloosa physician is killed when his bike is hit by a car; in a rare occurrence, the driver is seriously injured as well. A St. Petersburg city councilwoman is seriously injured in a collision with a hit-and-run fellow cyclist. A St. Louis bridge has an opportunity for a beautiful bike and pedestrian makeover. A bike stolen from a cross-country cyclist in Missouri is discovered in Tom Sawyer’s Cave, or close to it, anyway. Cyclelicious takes a detailed look at the newly unveiled Schlumpf Belt Drive System. A new device could give drivers 20 seconds warning before colliding with a bike. Lower speeds limits mean a better quality of life. Bicycling offers nine tips for faster fitness.

Russell Brand rides an ill-fitting bike in New York, while scofflaw cyclist Jude Law breaks the law by riding on London sidewalks. Scotland gets it’s first bike share program. A Scottish bicyclist dies in the lap of a drunk driver’s passenger after being hit at 70 mph and thrown through the car’s windshield. Something UK drivers and cyclists can agree on, as both protest plans to turn off streetlights. Brit cyclists deliver a postal protest in an attempt to keep Posties on their Pashleys. A British cyclist dies riding without a helmet after downing eight or nine drinks. A three-year old is banished from the local park because his training wheels are deemed a threat to “health and safety.” Don’t carry your chain lock over your handlebars, seriously. Biking in Estonia, circa 1930-ish.

Finally, here’s your chance to be the proud owner of a second-hand Brompton.

A 24-carat gold-plated Brompton.

For all those celebrating today, l’shana tova! or Eid saeedi!, respectively. And respectfully.

Is it right to pass on the right? Or dangerous and illegal?

It’s a simple syllogism.

Passing on the right is illegal; I pass on the right. Therefore, I break the law.

Right?

Okay, so it’s not up there with Socrates’ classic hits, like “All men are mortal.” But that was the gist of a conversation that took place last week, in response to my comments about the recent TRL study showing drivers are responsible for the overwhelming majority of British cycling collisions.

A reader named Doug questioned how closely the British data actually correlates to Los Angeles, which is a fair question. While British drivers complain about the very same cyclist behaviors L.A. drivers do — and vice versa — we have no statistics to back us up.

Primarily because no one has bothered to do an in-depth study of cycling in this city — let alone an analysis of how and why cycling accidents happen and who is at fault.

But more to the point, at least in terms of today’s topic, he also complained about cyclists who run stop signs and red lights. And about riders who pass on the right.

Like I do. And like I often advise other cyclists to do.

Pass on the right, that is — not run red lights.

As Doug put it,

Splitting lines, by both motorcycles and bicycles, is legal in California. However, passing on the right is not, and that is very different. Certainly, a responsible cyclists knows that passing on the right is dangerous and should be avoided.

So who’s right?

From my perspective, you’re almost always better off at the front of an intersection, where you can be seen from every angle, than stopped in the lane behind a line of cars — where drivers coming up from behind may not anticipate the presence of a cyclist, and where you could be hidden from oncoming and cross traffic. And that often means working your way up the right side of the traffic lane.

There are other situations that seem to call for passing on the right, as well. Like riding in heavy traffic, where you can easily ride faster than the speed of the cars next to you. Or when traffic is stopped while you have a clear path ahead.

My justification for doing it is simple. CVC21202 requires that you ride as far to the right as practicable. So unless you’re actually riding in the traffic lane, you’re in a separate lane from the traffic next to you — usually the parking lane or a strip of pavement to the right of the actual traffic lane.

And according to the applicable traffic code, CVC21754, passing on the right is allowed “whenever there is unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles in the direction of travel.” In other words, if there’s a clear lane of travel wide enough for your bike, it’s legal.

Still not sure?

Look at it this way. Say you’re driving in the right lane on a four lane street, with two lanes of traffic in each direction. The cars in the left lane come to a stop while the lead driver waits to make a left turn. Does that mean you have to stop as well, even though you’re in the next lane? Or if the traffic to your left slows down, do you have to slow as well to avoid passing anyone?

Of course not.

If that happened, traffic would grind to a halt on virtually every street and highway in the country. And since the same laws apply for bikes as for other road users, if it’s legal for drivers, it’s legal for us.

But that was just my opinion — based on nothing more than the rationalizations of a highly opinionated, semi-analytical long-time cyclist. Then I read almost exactly the same arguments on cycling lawyer Bob Mionske’s Bicycle Law website.

But as Rick Bernardi’s column there makes clear, just because something’s legal, that doesn’t mean you may not still get a ticket for it. And you may not win in court, either.

The other question is, is it safe?

Only about as safe as any other maneuver on streets filled with sometimes careless and inattentive drivers.

Some drivers may not check their mirrors and blind spots before moving to the right, never considering that anyone else might want to occupy that same space.

Or operate under the mistaken assumption that it’s illegal for cyclists to pass on the right, and therefore, none would even try. Because, you know, drivers never do anything we think they’re not supposed to do, either.

So you have to be careful.

Keep a close eye on the cars on your left, watching for right turn signals or front wheels turned to the right, as well as cars slowly inching over or drivers turning to look over their shoulders. Always pass on the left side of a right turn lane. And never, ever pass to the right of a car that’s waiting to make a right turn.

But consider this. The recent landmark study of cycling accidents from Fort Collins, Colorado, listed passing on the right as a contributing factor in just one of 354 cycling collisions.

One.

In other words, about 213 less than the number of broadside collisions that occurred as a result of simply riding a bike across an intersection.

And I don’t know anyone who says that just riding across the street is dangerous.

Or illegal.

Bike law change #4: Clarify the law allowing drivers to leave their lane to pass a bike

As a driver, I was taught to give riders plenty of clearance when passing, even if that meant briefly going into the other lane or crossing the yellow line. And I’ve always understood that the law not only allowed that, but actually encouraged it.

But I’ve noticed that while many L.A. drivers do just that, others are reluctant to pass a cyclist if it means even putting their left wheels on the divider line, let alone actually crossing it. Instead, they wait behind the rider, becoming angrier and more impatient with every passing moment. Or they zoom past at the first opportunity, whether or not there’s room — let alone if it’s actually safe.

So let’s clarify the law, so that every driver knows it’s okay to cross into the other lane or briefly cross the center line in order to pass a cyclist, as long as it can be done safely and there are no other vehicles in the way.

Bike law change #3: Ban the “I just didn’t see him” excuse

It shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that cyclists and drivers sometimes try to defy the laws of physics by occupying the same space at the same time. And when that happens, the driver usually blames the cyclist, or claims he just didn’t see the rider — and too often, gets away with it.

However, the law requires that drivers be alert and aware of the traffic conditions around them. Which means that they are required to see, and take notice of, any bicyclists that are visible on the road around them.

There are situations where riders can be hidden behind another vehicle, of course, or riding where they shouldn’t be, like in the driver’s blind spot or on the wrong side of the road. But in the vast majority of cases, there’s no reason why an alert driver shouldn’t be able to see any cyclist who might be sharing the road with them. And if you can see the driver, he or she should certainly be able to see you.

So let’s put the responsibility exactly where it belongs, and prohibit any use of the “I just didn’t see him” excuse, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that it wasn’t possible to see the rider under the existing conditions.

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