Tag Archive for UCLA

Update: L.A. Critical Mass rider killed in Westwood fall

God, I hate this.

According to a report from Koreatown311, a cyclist on Friday night’s LA Critical Mass ride has died as a result of a mass fall while riding through the UCLA campus.

Details are sketchy, but reports are a group of riders fell while going downhill on Charles E. Young Drive, leaving several riders injured; at least one suffering critical head injuries.

The only significant hill I know in that area would be the one leading down from the residence halls, past Drake Field.

LA Scanner reports that the victims were taken to Cedar Sinai as well as nearby UCLA hospital. Reportedly, no cars were involved, but there may have been an obstacle in the roadway.

Several reports have said that the victim was not wearing a helmet.

Koreatown311 reports the ride was halted following the collision at the order of the LAPD Incident Commander, with the riders sent back to the starting point at Western and Wilshire.

More details as they become available.

This is the 51st cycling fatality in Southern California this year, the 12th in Los Angeles County, and the third (correction: 4th) in the City of Los Angeles. It is also, to the best of my knowledge, the first to occur on the L.A. Critical Mass ride.

My heartfelt prayers for the victim and his or her family.

Update: A comment from Gina suggests that the police may have been at fault (Update: other witness reports contradict Gina’s statement, and suggest she may have seen a different wreck; see below).

I was there. The police caused the crash. The “obstacle” in the road was an unmarked police car, some wise-ass decided to slow the riders down by pulling out into the middle of the road and parking with one little nark-light on the hood. The family should sue the LAPD. The police need to leave LACM alone, it was fine before they started ‘escorting’ the ride.

More information on the Critical Mass Facebook page, including the name of the victim. However, I won’t post it on here until I know the net-of-kin have been notified. No one should ever find out a loved one has died by reading it here.

Update 2: In an inflammatory report, KNBC-4 has identified the victim as 18-year old Jerico Culata of Los Angeles, who is not the person who was named on the Facebook page in the link above. They place the location as Charles E. Young Drive and De Neve Drive, around 9:50 pm, which places it west of Drake Field, rather than north as I had guessed.

According to the report, Culata lost control of his bike on a downhill curve, and slammed into a masonry wall; despite Gina’s comment above, there is no mention of a police car involved.

A comment from Kryzstov adds additional information, saying Culata may have died instantly. He also clarifies Gina’s comment, suggesting she may have witnessed a different collision.

I witnessed the whole thing. He was right in front of me when he crashed and hit the wall. He unfortunately couldn’t stop because he was riding a fixie and we were coming down a steep hill. Myself and another cyclist were the first two to approach him to see if he was ok. The other cyclist turned him over from being on his stomach and it was clear that he had died instantly. Regarding the other two crashes, the police car that the boy hit was not unmarked and it was parked on the side of the road.

I know that road well, as it’s part of my regular ride when UCLA is out of session. There is a relatively steep downhill with a minor curve, combined with rough pavement in places; I usually have to brake in that section to control my speed.

Update 3: KTLA-5 reports that there may have been as few as 100 cyclists who ride through the UCLA campus, rather than the main group of around 2,500 riders who often  participate in L.A. Critical Mass on a nice night.

Both the KNBC and a report from KCBS-2 contain an inappropriate reference about run-ins with the police during Critical Mass rides; while both reference a minor altercation that occurred on the San Diego ride, there is no suggestion that Culata’s death had anything to do with a confrontation between police and the riders. In fact, all indications are that the ride was peaceful from start to finish.

It should also be noted that solo falls like this are exactly what bike helmets were designed to protect against. Whether wearing one last night would have kept Culata alive, we’ll probably never know.

Update 4: According to Krystov, the main body of the Critical Mass ride went through the UCLA campus, rather than an offshoot, which would have put the number of riders at many times the 100 riders cited by KTLA.

And despite the inflammatory news reports linking Culata’s death with an incident on the San Diego Critical Mass ride, it turns out the screwdriver that injured the San Diego police officer was thrown from a balcony along the ride route, rather than by one of the riders.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Krumer urges anyone who witnessed  Culata’s fall to contact police investigators

It would be really great if those who stated that they witnessed the whole thing…please contact West Traffic Division and provide an official statement. 213-473-0220.

Bicycle Pit Stop at UCLA today from 10 – 2

I’m working on my next post, but I didn’t want you to miss out on this.

Westside and Bruin riders may want to stop by the UCLA campus, as the UCLA Bike Coalition is hosting a bike pit stop from 10 am to 2 pm today to help get you back on your bike.

And be sure to stop back later for big news on the Marvin Braude bike path.

USC officials ban bikes from campus; more enlightened UCLA wins Metro award

You don’t have to go to Blackhawk, Colorado or  St. Charles County, Missouri to find misguided leaders banning — or attempting to ban — bikes.

You only have to go as far as the University of Southern California campus.

Just days after a writer in the school’s Daily Trojan called on university officials to develop a more effective way of dealing with USC’s estimated 10,000 to 15,000 bikes a day, Dr. Charles E. Lane, Associate Senior Vice President for Career and Protective Services, responded in typically kneejerk fashion by banning bikes from the two major pedestrian thoroughfares on campus — one of which is listed as a bike lane on Metro’s new bike map.

It’s not that careless riding isn’t a problem. In fact, in a story about the ban, LADOT Bike Blog reports that a majority of students surveyed claimed to have been hit by a bike two or less times in the past year. Although the same study also shows that a majority of students feel bike congestion on campus is average or not a problem.

But the solution isn’t banning bikes. Especially not by an institution dedicated to higher education.

As LADOT BB and the Daily Trojan both point out, the problem isn’t bikes, or even the high number of bikes on campus. It’s the university’s complete and total failure to do anything to accommodate bikes or educate students on how to ride safely.

But instead of doing something about it — just what part of education don’t they understand? — they respond by banning bikes from a large segment of the school, and asking incoming freshmen to leave their bikes at home.

Then again, this is the same school that ticketed cyclists for riding in the crosswalk — even though that’s legal anywhere it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk.

Like L.A., for instance.

Now contrast USC’s bike ban with archrival UCLA, which actually encourages students and employees to ride to campus, and gives them secure places to park once they get there. Not to mention all the other schools that are busy implementing their own bike share programs, not banning them.

For a school that claims to be a leading educational institution, USC gets an F in transportation planning.

………

Congratulations to the far more bike-friendly UCLA Transportation and the UCLA Sustainable Resource Center, who will be honored tonight for their short film Bike-U-mentary.

Directed by Brent Parnell, it looks at Herbie Huff and Mihai Peteu, campus bike commuters active in L.A.’s cycling community, and offers their perspectives on riding to campus and how to get started with bike commuting in the Los Angeles area.

The film will receive a Metro Rideshare Diamond Award at a ceremony this evening.

………

The League of American Bicyclists is out with their latest list of Bicycle Friendly Communities.

Davis remains the only city in California to earn Platinum Status, along with Boulder CO and Portland OR. Palo Alto, San Francisco and Stanford University — not USC — remain Gold, while Folsom, the Presidio of San Francisco, San Louis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz are Silver. Long Beach and Santa Monica retain the Bronze status, along with Thousand Oaks, Irvine, Riverside, Santa Clarita. Honorable Mention goes to Menlo Park, Merced, North Lake and Palm Desert.

Los Angeles evidently remains in the dishonorable category, despite our Mayor’s Road to Damascus — or in this case, Culver City — conversion to bicycle advocate.

And don’t get me started on those Trojans.

………

Joaquin Rodriguez enjoys the red leader’s jersey on Vuelta’s Tuesday rest day, then loses it in a disastrous time trial as Vincenzo Nibali survives a wheel change to claim the lead. And this year’s Tour of Britain turns into absolute carnage.

A new website says Lance Armstrong needs your help to fight doping allegations; isn’t that the approach Floyd Landis took? Meanwhile, Armstrong’s Team RadioShack gets a belated invitation to the Tour of Lombardy.

………

Santa Monica’s Agensys development is approved with no bike path, though the City Council did toss in a few bucks to ease the pain. L.A City Council candidate Stephen Box takes current Councilmember Greig Smith for overreacting to complaints about new bike lanes on Wilbur Ave, and LADOT for not doing enough to avoid the problem. LADOT Bike Blog concludes its study of sidewalk riding in Los Angeles County with a look at the eastern San Gabriel Valley; evidently, the Claremont Cyclist is on his own. Streetsblog offers a photo tour of Long Beach’s new Vista Street bike boulevard. Authorities continue to investigate the woman who switched seats with her drunk boyfriend and drove away after he killed a German cyclist in San Francisco. The U.S. Department of Transportation is planning a Distracted Driving Summit on Tuesday the 21st, with online access for those of us at work or home. Time looks at where the transportation stimulus funds went. More women now bike in New York. If an angry driver would murder someone over a speed bump, what would they do over a road diet — or God forbid, a bike boulevard? The inaugural Crooked Roubaix takes riders on dirt roads through the Colorado high country at up to 10,000 feet elevation and temperatures as low as the 20s; hopefully they read these tips on fall riding wear. A Portland school reverses a ban on biking and encourages riding to class. The Guardian asks why a woman on a bike has to deal with sexual comments from jerks. Bike friendly Nottingham has been named England’s least car-dependant city, while Southport offers a bike-friendly escape for vacationing Brits. Rescued by a knight in shiny red overalls with a tire pump. Feast your eyes on the new 2011 Pinarellos and the Canyon Strive enduro bike.

Finally, a new campaign warns London cyclists of the dangers posed by large trucks but may only discourage people from riding, while cyclists launch their own campaign to get dangerous trucks off the streets.

A meditation on sharrows and door zones

In search of the Great White Sharrow.

Last week, I found out exactly where the door zone is.

Not that I didn’t know before.

Though now I doubt I’ll ever question it again.

Last month I mentioned that I’d ended up riding the now nearly four week-old sharrows on 4th Street the day they first appeared. And found them not quite to my liking, placing me a little further out into the lane than I felt comfortable with.

After reading that, Gary Kavanagh reminded me about the sharrows that had been placed on Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach since I’d last been down that way.

So I set off to check them out, plotting a route that would take me to the Redondo Pier, then back up to check out Santa Monica’s newly extended bike lanes on Arizona Ave and the new sharrows on 14th Street. And figured I might as well visit the site of the soon-to-come sharrows on Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice while I was at it.

Call it my own personal Tour de Sharrows.

As I rode up Abbot Kinney, I took my usual position just inside the lane and just outside the door zone.

A short line of cars passed safely around me, moving across the yellow line to leave a comfortable margin of three to five feet. All except the last car in the line, which failed to follow the example the others had set — and instead buzzed me less than a foot from my left elbow.

At that exact moment, as a car zoomed by just inches to my left, a driver unlocked his parked car and — without ever gazing behind him — threw open his door, missing me by just inches.

That’s when the real meaning of door zone sank in.

If I’d positioned myself even a few inches to the right, I would have been knocked into the car on my left. And where I would have pinballed from there I have no idea.

And no desire to find out.

But it reconfirmed my own instincts, and provided exactly the experience I needed evaluate the sharrows for myself.

When I made it to Hermosa, I paused to take a couple of quick photos. And watched as the drivers zoomed down the street jockeying for position on a busy beach day — despite what it looks like in the photo below — and convincing me that I would have to struggle to hold my lane position. Sharrows or not.

Yet my experience was exactly the opposite.

The start of the Hermosa sharrows, which extend down Hermosa Ave from the bike path.

The sharrows were positioned dead center in the right lane, just as they’d been on 4th Street. But here they were on a four lane street, rather than two. And as I rode down the center of the lane, drivers either followed patiently behind me, or simply moved into the other lane to go around me.

No one honked. No one pressured me or passed too close. And the only driver who followed closer than I liked went around me once he realized I wasn’t going to get out of his way.

In other words, it was probably the most enjoyable experience I’d ever had taking the lane.

I can’t say I felt that way in Santa Monica.

When is a bike lane not a bike lane? When it's a work zone in Santa Monica.

First up was the bike lane on Arizona, in which I rode safely for exactly one block before being forced into the traffic lane by a city work crew. So I took my place in the lane, riding squarely down the middle and holding my place in a line cars until I could move safely back into the bike lane and leave them in my lurch.

As I was for the light to change, I noticed not everyone in Santa Monica like bikes.

When I got to 14th Street, I turned left and resumed my usual place just outside the door zone. For the first few blocks, the lane was wide enough that cars could pass easily on my left. Once it narrowed, I moved a little further into the lane, yet still far enough to the right that drivers could pass with just a little patience by briefly moving onto the other side of the road.

Sharrows on 14th Street are placed exactly in the center of the traffic lane/

That ended once the sharrows started.

Just as on Hermosa Avenue, the sharrows were placed directly in the middle of the traffic lane. But here it was on a two lane street, where drivers would be forced to go all the way onto the other side of the road to go around me.

The drivers behind me clearly had no intention of doing that. And I can’t say I blamed them.

So after awhile, I ignored the markings on the asphalt, and moved back to where I felt more comfortable on the right third of the lane — allowing the drivers behind to go around by briefly crossing over the center of the road, much to their relief. And mine.

It was then that I discovered my own personal sharrow comfort level.

UCLA's sharrows are placed in the right third of the traffic lane.

On roads with two lanes in each direction, I’m perfectly comfortable in the center of the lane, where anyone who wants to pass can simply take the other lane. I don’t have to worry about impatient drivers behind me, or feel like I’m not sharing the road myself.

Even though I’m quite comfortable riding in the center of the lane for short distances or when I’m moving at or near the speed of traffic, I prefer sharrows placed on the right third of the lane when there’s just one lane in each direction. Like the ones that I’ve used when riding through the UCLA campus the past few years.

This marking either means that a sharrow goes here, or your money went that way.

And judging by the placement markings that recently appeared on the street, exactly where it looks like LADOT is planning to place them on Westholme Ave.

It may not be the placement preferred by everyone.

But it keeps me out of the door zone while putting me in control of the lane — without blocking it completely.

And it’s the one I’m most comfortable with.

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