Tag Archive for Westwood Blvd bike lanes

Breaking news — bike rider physically assaulted by motorist in West LA

I’ve received an eye witness report of a bike rider being physically attacked by a motorist this afternoon.

According the report, forwarded to me by attorney David Huntsman, a woman was driving north on Westwood Blvd when she saw another driver get out of his car and attack the rider on the southeast corner of Westwood and Olympic just after noon today. As she described it, the driver came at the rider flailing his arms, while the cyclist yelled at his attacker.

The woman said other people appeared to be calling 911 to report the attack.

Let’s be very clear.

No matter what took place between the two parties to cause the conflict, the motorist committed a crime by striking the rider — as one cop explained to me in a similar case, the driver was at fault as soon as he left his vehicle. He can, and should, be prosecuted if he and his victim can be identified.

This is also would appear to be a perfect case for LA’s cyclist anti-harassment ordinance, which allows bicyclists to sue motorists or others who threaten or attack them while riding. The ordinance allows victims to collect three times actual damages or $1000, whichever is higher; it also allows for the payment of full legal fees to encourage lawyers to take a case that might not otherwise be worth their time.

The problem with the ordinance has always been that it can be difficult to gather the witnesses or other evidence necessary to prove the case. But in this case, it took place in front of multiple witnesses, at least one of whom has already come forward.

If anyone has more information — or if you were the rider involved — contact me; you can find me email address on the About page.

And let’s not forget that this is exactly where an innovative floating bike lane was proposed to reduce or eliminate conflicts between cyclists and drivers — without the loss of a single traffic lane or parking spot.

Yet the lane was vetoed by Westside City Councilmember Paul Koretz at the urging of wealthy homeowners, even though it would have zero negative impact on the Boulevard and the surrounding area.

And would move cyclists out of the way of impatient, and too often, angry drivers, helping to avoid incidents like this.

Fight for Westwood bike lanes at LA City Council Tuesday; Times writer tells motorists to get a grip

The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition has issued an action alert calling for bike riders to attend tomorrow’s city council session to protest the cancellation of planned bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard.

Please join us for a day of action tomorrow to urge Councilmember Koretz to keep his promise to study bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard. He told us that we would be able to share our thoughts at a public forum, which he then canceled. So, we want to make sure he hears that you support bike lanes on Westwood.

You can show your support in two ways:

1) Join us at City Council at 10 AM tomorrow when we give public comment. You will have two minutes to make your case for bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard. Let us know you’re coming: email alek@la-bike.org with your name and address and we’ll fill out a public comment card for you.

Council Chambers (10 AM on Tuesday)
Los Angeles City Hall
200 N. Spring Street, 3rd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90012

2) Can’t make it downtown? Call Koretz’s office and share your thoughts. Dial (310) 289-0353 (field office) or (213) 473-7005 (downtown office). Then, email alek@la-bike.org to let us know how it went.

Sample script:

“Hi, my name is __________ and I’m a (resident of CD5, student at UCLA, etc.) and I’m calling to urge Councilmember Koretz to complete the study of the Westwood Boulevard bike lanes and have a transparent public process, like he promised. Bike lanes on Westwood are important to me because…”

What’s your reason for supporting bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard? Consider these when making comments either at City Council or on the phone:

Safety – A report by Neighborhood Bike Ambassador and Westside South of Santa Monica (WSSM) resident Calla Weimer shows a history of collisions along Westwood in just the six blocks from Santa Monica Blvd to Pico. Westwood Blvd is among the most-traveled streets for bicyclists on the Westside that does not have bike lanes.

Lack of good alternatives – There’s been a lot of talk about alternatives, but when you map them out, they are hillier, indirect, have stop signs nearly every block, or lack ways to cross major boulevards. All of these factors make Westwood Blvd the preferred route for bicyclists.

Bikes are good for business – Study after study shows that bicyclists are a boon for local business. Bicyclists can stop on a whim, park easily, and shop more frequently that those arriving by other means. Routing bike traffic on side streets between major employment and transit hubs is a missed opportunity for small businesses.

Sustainability – Just days after opposing the Westwood bike lanes, Councilmember Koretz attended the launch of the UCLA Grand Challenge, calling for Los Angeles to be carbon-neutral by 2050. Transportation is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles, and research clearly demonstrates that alternatives to driving must be convenient for people to use them.

Access to the Expo Line – The Westwood station on the Expo Line will not have public parking, making it all the more important that it is accessible by bike. Over 90% of Metro customers access transit without a car. Metro is currently analyzing corridors for potential station access improvements and bikeshare opportunities, but Westwood will miss out if the bike lanes do not go through.

I can’t make it, since I’ll be sitting in for Damien Newton as guest editor of LA Streetsblog in the morning.

But I urge you to attend, or call or email CM Kortetz’ office if you can’t. Because a decision that gives a greater value to the convenience of a few homeowners over the safety of cyclists should not be allowed to stand.

………

This is the editorial I’ve been waiting for, as a writer for the Times tells motorists who claim cyclists have it coming to get a grip.

Bravo.

So what is it that drives otherwise rational people to fits of apoplexy when the subject of cycling comes up?

Yes, some cyclists break the rules. Dangerously, at times.

But sit by any major street, and it only takes moments to observe an unending stream of stupid driver tricks. And has been pointed out many times before, even the most reckless cyclist is a danger primarily to him or herself, while reckless drivers are a danger to everyone around them.

Dangerous drivers kill; dangerous cyclists and pedestrians get killed.

The risk is by no means equivalent.

And only a truly sick SOB would ever take pleasure or find justification in the needless death of another human being.

So get a grip. And get over it already.

………

Vancouver Cycle Chic writer Chris Bruntlett interviews me and other LA bikevocates in a photo essay on the state of bicycling in Los Angeles; a nice piece from a nice guy.

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4314920.web.templateCycling in the South Bay’s Seth Davidson rides to remember a fallen cyclist he didn’t know and writes about it movingly.

Speaking of Seth, word is he has a book coming out this week, with a signing this Thursday at 7 pm at Pages: A Book Store, 904 Manhattan Ave in Manhattan Beach — including wine from Victoria Hill Vineyards and beer from Strand Brewing. That alone would make it worth the trip to the South Bay.

Seth is one of my favorite bike writers, veering from wildly inappropriate to outrageously funny to deeply moving. Sometimes in the same post.

Something tells me his book will be on the can’t miss gift list for a lot of bike riders this year. Including mine.

Maybe a copy will find its way into my stocking.

And yes, that’s a hint. But someone please tell my wife, since she doesn’t read my blog.

………

Don’t miss the LACBC Open House on December 5th; and yes, I’ll be there. How to protect your bike from theft while riding Metro; this is what can happen if you don’t. Pardon me boy, is that the Westwood Blvd choo choo tracks? Take a bike train to the LA Gran Prix on Saturday, and watch the first ever Wolfpacktrack Invitational. Better Bike recaps a recent tour of soon-to-be-made-over Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, with possible plans for bike lanes. A bike rider in Santa Monica gets hit by a car, assaults the driver, jumps up and down on the roof, and gets arrested; not that he overreacted or anything. New protected bike lanes in the San Gabriel Valley. Cyclists helping others with the SC Velo and Incycle Thanksgiving food drive. CLR Effect offers incredible photos from the El Dorado Park Cyclocross; hey Michael, ever think about putting a bike calendar together?

Six highlights from the recent California Bike Summit. Orange County riders turn out to remember fallen cyclist Paul Lin. Too bad this one is buried behind the paywall, as the OC Register’s Dan Whiting says it’s worth two seconds to save a cyclist’s life; I may disagree with Dan from time to time, but no one ever said his heart isn’t in the right place. An OC driver is sentenced to 21 years in prison for killing a cheerleader while drunk, thus proving the lives of cheerleaders are more valuable than cyclists; thanks to George Cook for the link. San Diego cyclists complain about trash cans in the bike lane. A memorial ride was held Saturday for popular San Diego cyclist Udo Heinz, who was killed by a bus on Camp Pendleton last August. Santa Barbara paramedics pitch in to buy a special needs man a new bike less than an hour after his was stolen. Some Santa Cruz cyclists protest the groundbreaking for a new bike path. A 72-year old cyclist suffers major injuries in a Cayucos collision. More evidence that police officers don’t always understand the laws they enforce. Two teens injured in Stockton bike-by shooting; thanks to Cyclelicious for the heads-up. San Francisco police are accused of beating a bike rider for riding on the sidewalk, then beating people who tried to come to his aid; turns out he was only packing a cupcake.

Lactic acid is your friend; no, really, that’s what they say. Floyd Landis goes to war against Lance Armstrong; speaking of Lance, he says former UCI president Verbruggen was in on the cover-up. Well, duh. A ghost bike goes up in my hometown. A Wisconsin bike evangelist wants you to get ‘bent. The NYPD cracks down on bicyclists for riding on a bike path. Riding with Wall Street MAMILS on $20,000 bikes.

In a virtual repeat of the Santa Barbara story, a stranger buys a new bike for an autistic Canadian boy after his is stolen. Is London Mayor Boris pushing too fast to make the city bike friendly, or not fast enough? Following a rash of bicycling deaths in London, police wisely choose to crack down on the victims, rather than the big ass trucks that are killing them. London gang members are barred from riding bikes to prevent them from committing crimes or fleeing police; yeah, they couldn’t possibly just take the Tube or run away or anything. Eight reasons to be grateful to cyclists. A UK driver didn’t see the young bike rider he killed because he was safely checking his rearview mirror; oh, well okay, then. UK police confiscate a $273,000 McLaren supercar after the uninsured driver hits a cyclist; seriously, you drive a quarter-of-a-million dollar car and can’t carry a little insurance? An 18-year old Irish rider pleads guilty to the new charge of drunk cycling; just one of an average five Irish cyclists who appear in court each week. A Spanish cyclist is fined the equivalent of $135 for eating a croissant while riding. Bicycling should be encouraged in India so youths learn to maintain balance in their lives. Can someone please explain what a Kiwi bike rider who was seriously injured after riding into a parked car five years ago has to do with a call to wear hi-viz to improve visibility?

Finally, a cyclist does the right thing by giving up bicycling to take up driving; no really, you should read this one. Unlike the Chinese driver who did the wrong thing, promising to take the cyclist he hit to the hospital before dumping him on the side of the road.

And if this wasn’t enough to satisfy your bike link lust, the world’s biggest and best bike link compendium is just a click away.

Breaking news: Councilmember Koretz abandons safety, cyclists and his word on Westwood Boulevard

Evidently, the lives and safety of bike riders don’t matter when wealthy homeowners raise their voices in opposition.

At least, that the message CD5 Councilmember Paul Koretz seems to be sending.

According to LA Streetsblog, Koretz has come out in opposition to bike lanes in any form on Westwood Blvd between National and Santa Monica Boulevards — despite an earlier promise to study the feasibility of such lanes, which is currently ongoing.

Evidently, he doesn’t want any facts to get in the way of making up his mind.

As Damien Newton, author of the Streetsblog story points out, any kind of bike lane on that section of Westwood has been adamantly opposed by a small group of local homeowners represented by the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowner’s Group, as well as business owners along the boulevard who fear a loss of parking spaces.

It is wildly unlikely that the city will move forward with a bicycle lane project without at least tacit support from the Council office, which is bowing to pressure from homeowner groups that have been hostile to transportation options outside of the automobile….

Local opposition to the lane publicly centered around an LADOT study of a bus lane (bikes allowed) which would have removed travel lanes and parking.  That plan was DOA.  Instead, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition proposed a “floating” bicycle lane where the parked-car adjacent bike lane would be moved to the curb during rush hour so that the road could continue to have a peak hour lane.  After the public meeting, the LADOT began a study of the floating bike lane (which they had only briefly introduced as an “idea” at the public hearing), but that was put on hold by the Councilmember.

It should be noted that the floating bike lane would not have resulted in the loss of a single traffic lane or parking space; the greatest handicap anyone would face would be crossing the street from one side to the other as the parking lane flipped sides.

Now, the floating bike lane plan has been rejected by the Councilmember before he has allowed the formal study to be was completed.  In response, today, the LACBC released an action alert calling on Koretz to move forward with a full study of the lanes that includes all stakeholders.

In that alert, the Bike Coalition calls attention to the councilmember’s broken promise.

Word on the street is that Councilmember Paul Koretz is reneging on his commitment to study bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard, connecting the future Expo Line Station to UCLA and Palms.  Earlier this year Koretz wrote, “I am an advocate of bike paths so long as we implement them intelligently and with the input of local stakeholders.”  With that in mind, LACBC respected local opposition to the City’s proposed bus-bike lanes and developed an alternative that still provides safety benefits without the traffic impact that upset some stakeholders. We then requested to work with the Councilmember to:

  • Study alternatives for Westwood with less traffic impact
  • Create an inclusive engagement process that is fact-based and respectful of divergent opinions

After agreeing to the above, Koretz stalled.  He did not set up an open and transparent process and instructed LADOT to stop the study.  Instead of seeking input from all stakeholders, he has listened to one small insular group of homeowners that have repeatedly put out inaccurate information to rally opposition to even studying the project.  At LACBC, we firmly believe that studying options is the first step in making decisions “intelligently.”

Koretz opposition also flies in the face of support for the lanes from his own appointee to the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, CD5 representative Jonathan Weiss, as quoted by Streetsblog.

Weiss argues that the road width is actually wide enough to put in lanes without removing parking or mixed-use lanes if lanes are narrowed.

“There is ample room for bike lanes without losing car lanes or parking,” Weiss writes in a letter to Koretz. “Providing bike lanes would actually free up traffic by separating bikes from cars.  And safety concerns will continue to keep risk-averse people from riding – exacerbating, rather than relieving, automobile traffic to UCLA and keeping buses stuck in traffic.  (Biking is actually faster than the bus during the evening commute.)  UCLA has done a great job in cutting its carbon footprint, but this bottleneck on its doorstep hinders its ongoing efforts in that regard.”

It’s short notice, I know.

But the LACBC is calling on everyone who rides Westwood — or would like to — to attend a meeting this evening to discuss the next steps in light of Koretz firmly planting a knife in the back of the Westside cycling community.

Come to our meeting TONIGHT (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. to plan next steps for RideWestwood and find out about upcoming actions:

UCLA – Public Affairs Building – Faculty Lounge (Room 5391)
337 Charles E. Young Dr. East (near Wyton and Hilgard).

If you can’t make the meeting — or even if you can — the coalition asks that you email Koretz’ office to demand he reconsider bike lanes on Westwood Blvd.

Sample email:

to: paul.koretz@lacity.org 
cc: joan.pelico@lacity.org, jay.greenstein@lacity.org 
bcc: info@la-bike.org 

subj: Study Westwood Bike Lanes

Dear Councilmember Koretz,

Westwood Boulevard is currently one of the most popular routes for people riding bikes in your district.  It is also one of the least safe.  You’ve said before that, “I do not vote for things that kill people.”  I hope that you’ll at least study how to fix a dangerous situation that has already killed and will likely again if it is not improved.  As a community leader, it’s your responsibility to convene people with differing views, seek out accurate information and make informed decisions that respect all stakeholders.  I ask that you take this commitment seriously by studying alternatives for bike lanes along Westwood Boulevard and hosting an open and inclusive process to discuss the merits of the project.

Sincerely,

your name
your neighborhood 

And while you’re at it, you might remind him of his own support for bicycling, as he stated right here when he was first running for office.

When I was the Mayor of West Hollywood, I requested input from the bicycle community on how to implement bike lanes on part of Santa Monica Boulevard. I think Los Angeles needs to adopt a regional public transportation approach that not only addresses improving traffic flow, and mass transit, but also how we can improve options and the quality of life for bicyclists.

In general, we need to focus on the creation of an effective bicycle infrastructure. Los Angeles, with over 330 sunny days a year, should be the world leader in bicycle commuting. We need to start the work of building many more miles of safe bikeways and adequate secure parking for commuters. These two steps will be a good beginning in our efforts to alleviate congestion and improve traffic flow.

Odd that someone who fought for bike lanes on the even more congested Santa Monica Blvd through West Hollywood would oppose them on Westwood.

Or was he just saying what he thought we wanted to hear to win an election?

Making the perfect case for Westwood bike lanes

This is how you win the fight for bikes on the streets.

For the past year, I’ve been following the fight over bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard.

Particularly since attending the single most unpleasant bike meeting in my experience earlier this year, as a group of Westside home and business owners railed against the loss of a single parking space to improve safety for those on two wheels.

Even though the upcoming Expo Line extension promises to vastly increase the number of riders on the street, as countless students, professors and other employees will take the train to the planned Westwood stop. Then bike the last couple miles from and from the station and the UCLA campus.

And even though the current proposal for a floating bike lane avoids the elimination of a single traffic lane or parking space.

I was impressed when I was forwarded a document written by Calla Wilmer last May to other members of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners’ Association laying out all the arguments in favor of accommodating bike riders on the boulevard.

And even more impressed this last week when I received a brilliantly researched follow-up document she’d written, offering the clearest, most detailed argument I’ve seen yet on why these lanes must be built.

Or any other bike project, for that matter.

With footnotes, no less.

So I asked for permission to reprint her email here, and she graciously agreed.

Wiemer has addressed every argument against the lanes, and made the case for them as strongly as I’ve ever seen. In light of this, if anyone can still oppose them, they’re going to have some serious explaining to do.

It’s not a quick read. But definitely worth your time.

And a perfect example of how to lay out an irrefutable argument in favor of bicycling infrastructure.

……..

Cyclist Endangerment on Westwood Blvd II:

A Response to Critics and Skeptics

Calla Wiemer*

Westwood Blvd has been designated a backbone of the LA 2010 Bike Plan and targeted for the extension of now segmented bike lanes.  The leadership of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners’ Association has opposed bike lanes for the stretch of Westwood Blvd that runs through the WSSM neighborhood between Santa Monica and Pico.  The case in favor of bike lanes rests on a desire to mitigate the dangers that now confront cyclists on Westwood Blvd.  I presented analysis of the safety issues (along with a design proposal for bike lanes and a discussion of the parking situation) in a previous report submitted to the WSSM Bike Committee, hereafter referred to as “Cyclist Endangerment I”.[1]  The report generated much discussion and criticism.  This follow-up report offers a response to points raised by critics and skeptics.

Both reports are motivated by a desire to help inform stakeholders as to just how dangerous cycling is along the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd and to encourage the WSSM HOA leadership to reach out to HOA members with information on the situation.

This report begins with a recap of highlights from the WSSM HOA’s history related to bike lanes.  It then takes up a number of topics that have proven controversial in an effort to bring greater clarity to the discussion.  Finally, it concludes with a safety based argument in favor of bike lanes for Westwood Blvd.

WSSM HOA Bike Lane Activity

In recognition of the complexity of the bike lane issue, the WSSM HOA formed a Bike Committee which held a series of meetings.  Committee members, as appointed by the President, are:  Margaret Healey (co-chair); Craig Rich (co-chair); Marilyn Cohon; Randy Garrou; Janet Garstang; and Calla Wiemer.

A timeline of main activities is as follows:

  • 5 March 2013    WSSM Board discusses Bike Committee formation
  • 22 April 2013     first meeting of the Committee
  • 15 May 2013      Wiemer’s “Cyclist Endangerment I” submitted to the Committee
  • 9 July 2013          last meeting of the Committee (to date)

Other than my “Cyclist Endangerment I”, no written documents have been prepared by members of the WSSM Bike Committee.

The WSSM leadership has disseminated a number of e-mail communications expressing opposition to bike lanes for Westwood Blvd.  The most recent communication on this subject, dated 15 October 2013, objected even to the LA Department of Transportation undertaking study of a design proposal for bike lanes.  The only mention of safety in this communication appeared in the statement:   “The safety of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers is a critical goal.”

Discussion of Cyclist Endangerment on Westwood Blvd

My further input on five aspects of the safety discussion follows.

1)  Safety of cyclists the focus.  The WSSM e-mail of 15 October 2013 lumps together the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.  Drivers are encased in steel and glass, and further protected by air bags that inflate on impact.  Their safety is not at serious risk at speeds characteristic of Westwood Blvd.  Cyclists and pedestrians, by contrast, are exposed bodily in spaces shared with motor vehicles.  Bike lanes have been proposed to address the problem of danger to cyclists specifically.  The three-year period 2009-2011 saw 12 reported collisions involving cyclists on the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd and none involving pedestrians.[2]  By absorbing cyclists into the broader grouping of “pedestrians, cyclists and drivers” the critical problem faced by cyclists is diluted.  The dangers faced by cyclists call for specific attention in connection with the debate on bike lanes. 

2)  Significance of cyclist collision data.  “Cyclist Endangerment I” reported data on the number of collisions involving cyclists by year for the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd.  In 2011, six collisions resulted in police reports for this six block stretch of roadway.  A WSSM Board member responded to this information as follows (8 Oct 2013, e-mail):

“I personally think the raw number isn’t very meaningful. Some may see it as low, some may see it as high. I don’t think there’s enough context to interpret the value …”

Let us develop the context.

  • One way to provide context is to compare the rate of cyclist-involved collisions per mile for the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd with the rate for a broader geography.  At six collisions in 0.8 miles, the per mile rate was 7.5 for WSSM Westwood.  For the county of Los Angeles in the same year, the number of collisions involving cyclists was 2219.  The number of non-freeway road miles in LA County is 20,245.[3]  That makes for a cyclist-involved collision rate countywide of 0.24 per mile.  Thus the per mile rate of cyclist-involved collisions for the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd in 2011 was nearly 32 times that exhibited on LA County roads in general.
  • Another way of providing context is to examine the ratio of cyclist-involved collisions relative to all collisions for Westwood Blvd versus the same ratio for the county overall.  Conceivably, Westwood Blvd is so congested and treacherous that collision rates are high for all modes of transport, with cyclists just getting caught up in that broader milieu.  As it turns out, however, for WSSM Westwood, 43 percent of all collisions in 2011 involved cyclists while for LA County as a whole the ratio was only 9.0 percent.  This means collisions involving cyclists as a share of total collisions were 4.7 times higher for the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd than for LA County generally.

Skeptics might still counter that the six collisions in 2011 were a statistical aberration.  Such a short stretch of roadway is subject to a high degree of variability in collision rates from year to year, after all.  But even if we take the average number of cyclist collisions over the three year period 2009-2011 to represent the statistically expected number of collisions in 2011, the count still comes to four.  On a per mile basis, that number yields cyclist collisions for the WSSM stretch of Westwood Blvd at a rate 21 times higher than for LA County as a whole and a share of cyclist collisions relative to all collisions at a rate 3.2 times higher.

Bottom line, it is hard to imagine a standard by which six collisions involving cyclists (or even four) in six blocks in one year may be seen as low.

3)  Impact of bike lanes on safety.  The above statement from the WSSM Board member continues:

“… nor is it clear what will happen to that value in the future should the lane proposal succeed or fail.”

A 2012 academic study is instructive in this regard.[4]  The authors estimate the likelihood of cyclist injury associated with different infrastructure configurations using an inventive methodology to control for cyclist and environmental characteristics.  The most dangerous configuration for cyclists is identified as “major street with parked cars and no bike infrastructure”.  Other configurations are benchmarked against this standard.  The risk measure for cyclist injury was found to be lower by nearly 50 percent for “major streets with parked cars and bike lanes”.   Although interpretation of the statistical results is complicated,[5] the authors were heartened to discover that their results conformed closely with cyclist perceptions of the relative dangers of different infrastructure configurations.

Ultimately, if bike lanes are installed on Westwood Blvd, there will be no way of knowing just how much bloodshed is avoided.  Nor can we know exactly how many people will take to riding bikes on Westwood Blvd who would otherwise have been deterred.  But as Teschke and co-authors ascertained, danger is palpable when you’re in it on a bike.  Anyone who is out riding Westwood Blvd regularly can attest to how scary it is and to the difference bike lanes would make.

Among the six cyclists involved in collisions on WSSM Westwood in 2011, five were male, only one female.  This is consistent with gender proportions tabulated by the LA County Bicycle Coalition in its biennial counts of cyclists on LA roadways.  LACBC analysis of the data has revealed, however, that when bike lanes are present the share of female riders more than doubles.[6]  The interpretation offered is that females are typically more risk averse in their cycling choices than males, and that given safer conditions they are prepared to take advantage of the opportunities.  The upshot is that installing bike lanes on Westwood Blvd would make it a more inclusive biking environment for women.

4)  Complaints about cyclist behavior.  My reporting of collision figures at the June WSSM board meeting met with outcries over the perceived recklessness of cyclists.  There may be many reasons why cyclists do not consistently adhere to rules of the road as designed for motor vehicles:  attempt to avoid conflict; laziness; haste; capability to maneuver in ways that cars cannot.  There may also be many reasons why motorists violate the right-of-way of cyclists:  distraction; haste; didn’t “see” cyclist; “couldn’t help it”.  Fault is to be found on both sides.  Solutions are nevertheless more likely to be achieved through creating safer spaces for cyclists and motorists to coexist than through changing human nature.

For the six cyclist-involved collisions reported on WSSM Westwood in 2011, case reports show the motorist at fault in four and no party assigned fault in the other two.  In all six cases, the cyclist was injured while the motorist escaped unharmed.  To state the obvious, the contest between cyclists and cars is highly unequal.

5)  Collisions involving cyclists on an upswing.  Collisions involving cyclists have trended sharply upward in Los Angeles since the mid-2000s.  Between 2007 and 2011, the number rose citywide by nearly 70 percent.  Westwood Blvd has similarly seen a dramatic increase from only two cyclist-involved collisions between 2002 and 2007 to 15 between 2008 and 2011.  For the period since 2011, we do not yet have full collision data but we do have numbers on cyclist fatalities culled from news accounts, and these show an alarming leap.  The number of cyclist fatalities in LA County for all of 2012 was 22; for the first ten months of 2013 the count had already reached 32.[7]

BikeWestwoodII-chartBy contrast the incidence of collisions of all types has been declining, as has that for collisions involving pedestrians, as the accompanying figure shows.  A major factor in the increase in cyclist-involved collisions is presumably an increase in the number of cyclists on the road.  The LACBC bike counts show ridership trending strongly upward for Los Angeles generally.  A pattern of ever more cyclists on the road incurring ever more injuries is at the heart of the case for better cycling infrastructure.

Assessment

Current conditions on Westwood Blvd are extremely dangerous for cyclists.  This is a problem for two reasons.  One is that cyclists now braving these dangers are being injured in significant numbers.  The other is that people who would like to travel the corridor by bike are afraid to do so.

Westwood Blvd would present a very different atmosphere if bike lanes were installed and people in numbers gave up their cars to cycle.  For those getting around by bike, local shopping and dining would be more convenient without the stress of having to park a car.  No time would be wasted in transit as the time spent would double as exercise.  But even those traveling by car would be better off if freed of the frustration of getting trapped behind slow moving cyclists.  Cars and bikes would have their own spaces to move at their own speeds.

The problem of cyclists impeding motorists will only get worse with the opening of the Westwood Blvd Expo Line station.  This station will not offer parking for cars.  Cyclists and pedestrians will be its mainstay.  Many who now drive to UCLA or Westwood Village will find the combination of rail and bike an attractive alternative.  We need to prepare for this.

The decision whether to install bike lanes on Westwood Blvd, or even to study proposed designs, will be made by District 5 Councilmember Paul Koretz.  In reaching a verdict, he will take into account input from neighborhood stakeholders.  As a community, we must hope that the input he receives is well informed.


* The author is a member of the Bike Committee of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners’ Association.  This is a revised version of a report submitted to the WSSM Board of Directors at its 5 November 2013 meeting.  It reflects the views of the author alone and is not a product of the WSSM Bike Committee.   It can be found online at www.callawiemer.com/Documents/BikeWestwoodII.pdf.

[1] The full title is “Cyclist Endangerment on Westwood Blvd … and How to Mitigate It”.  The report is posted online at www.callawiemer.com/Documents/BikeWestwood.pdf.

[2] All collision data are from the Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) of the University of California Berkeley, http://tims.berkeley.edu/page.php?page=tools.

[4] Kay Teschke, et al, “Route Infrastructure and the Risk of Injuries to Bicyclists:  A Case-Crossover Study”, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 102, No. 12 (December 2012).

[5] The reduction in the risk measure does not translate directly into an equivalent reduction in the probability of cyclist injuries, and the study does not present results in such a form.  The statistical significance of the results is sensitive to the confidence interval chosen.  Stronger significance in risk reduction is associated with a road configuration involving bike lanes and no parked cars than with bike lanes and the existence of parked cars.

[6] Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, “Results from the 2011 City of Los Angeles Bicycle and Pedestrian Count,” p. 21, https://lacbc.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/2011_labikecountreport.pdf.

Two years for a fatal SD hit-and-run, and kneejerk NIMBYism rises in opposition to Westwood bike lanes

Two years in prison for Jin Hyuk Byun for the fatal hit-and-run collision that took the life of 18-year Angel Bojorquez in Rancho Santa Fe last year.

Police say Bojorquez was wearing reflective clothing and should have been highly visible as he rode his bike home from work for the first time, while Byun initially claimed his badly damaged truck hadn’t been driven recently, then claimed he thought he’d hit a mailbox, a deer or a dog.

Yeah, no point in stopping to find out, right?

………

Kneejerk NIMBYism strikes again, as anti-bike forces are urged to attend tonight’s Westwood Neighborhood Council meeting to fight proposed bike lanes on Westwood.

We love cycling and want to create a bike network on the Westside, but anyone who walks or drives down Westwood between Pico and Santa Monica knows that taking out lanes, or parking, or creating a bus/bike transit lane (that was vigorously opposed on Wilshire) will necessarily reduce lanes, and motorists will “peel off” onto the residential streets to find the path of least resistance.  This will not work for the community, for the businesses, or for the safety of cyclists.

In short, Westwood Blvd. simply can’t handle this proposal, and even the local cyclists find the proposal unworkable.

Actually, this local cyclist — and virtually every other rider I’ve discussed it with — finds the project not only workable, but necessary in anticipation of the coming Westwood Blvd Expo Line station.

Much of Westwood is already unworkable — and pretty much unrideable — in its current configuration, with a high level of congestion through most of the day. The only real solution is to provide a safe, workable alternative to encourage drivers to leave their leave their cars behind for short trips, as well as offering a much needed connection between the Expo Line and UCLA.

If you don’t have other obligations — and frankly, I don’t understand the logic of anyone hosting an important meeting on Valentines Day, forcing them to choose between their relationship and their safety on the streets — maybe you can stop by and argue against the insanity of maintaining the status quo.

Especially if you were one of the 150+ riders who took part in last weekend’s Ride Westwood.

Thanks to the Culver City Times for the heads-up.

Update: Flying Pigeon‘s Josef Bray-Ali makes the point that no traffic or parking lanes are actually being removed; they’re being repurposed from automotive to bicycle use, since bikes are still a form of transportation. 

The key is that streets serve to move people, not motor vehicles.

………

I’ve heard from people accusing current State Senator and CD 1 council candidate Gil Cedillo of lying at Sunday’s candidate forum co-sponsored by the LACBC.

Cedillo is accused of misrepresenting his ties to Chevron, as well as why he failed to vote for landmark legislation regulating pollution that causes global warming.

Streetsblog’s Damien Newton has done his typically great job of looking at all sides of the issue, including talking to the candidate himself. If you live in CD 1, you owe it to yourself to read the story, and decide for yourself if Cedillo whether being honest with you.

I don’t know where the truth lies in this case.

But the last thing L.A. needs is another truth-challenged city leader.

………

The LACBC is hiring a new Initiative Coordinator for Active Streets LA. If you’ve got a passion for bikes, plus organization and communication skills, maybe you should look into it.

If there wasn’t an inherent conflict of interest, I might do it myself.

………

LADOT plans to add over 20 miles of sharrows, mostly on the Westside – including Ohio Ave from Westwood to Bundy; preliminary markings on Ohio appear to go several blocks east of that. Celebrate Valentines Day by encouraging your heartthrob to express your mutual commitment to biking infrastructure, if not each other, in Downtown and Central L.A. tonight. Rick Risemberg says biking families are proof we’re getting there. Gary returns to Streetsblog with an overview of the current state of bike projects in Santa Monica. Senior cyclists are finding a home at the Santa Monica Bike Center. Boyonabike visits the Caltech Bike Lab. A Long Beach man is critically injured when he’s shot while riding his bike. San Francisco’s mayor refuses to live up to his promise to support cycling.

Traffic violence isn’t an accident, it’s the nation’s biggest mass tort. Floyd Landis compares pro cycling to organized crime; he should know, right? My objection to Landis isn’t that he doped, it’s that he lied to about it to get cyclists to assist in his cover-up. Bicycling offers advice on cornering. Did a Las Vegas cyclist die because of ringing in his ear? How businesses can attract cyclists; beer usually works in my book, and donuts. A new study from Portland State University will consider the impact of protected bike lanes. The Idaho stop law slowly spreads through Colorado cities; could Denver be next? Candidates to replace New York’s bike-friendly Mayor Bloomberg threaten to rip out the overwhelmingly popular bike lanes his administration has installed; thanks to Stanley E. Goldich for the link. (Note to L.A. mayoral candidates — if Gotham’s new mayor is stupid enough to fire NYDOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, we’re going to need a new one after the upcoming election. I’m just saying.) Unbelievably, the Virginia legislature refuses to make dooring illegal. A New York writer explains Bike Commuting 101, but fails to explain how to bike commute with your dog. Evidently, packs of rabid cyclists are running South Carolina drivers off the road; in my experience, a couple tons of human flesh will still lose to a ton or two of motor vehicle every time. After nearly running a cyclist over, a Florida driver returns to tell him bicyclists need to respect other people on the road — then intentionally doors him. No, really.

Should the safety of cyclists come before the convenience of parking? A London cyclist debates the merits of helmet use, and lands somewhere in the middle; I personally recommend wearing a helmet for every ride, but it is — and should be — your choice. New helmets will have built-in cameras. A 17-year old UK cyclist admits to killing a renowned cancer surgeon with a single punch after the other man got out of his car to argue about the rider’s lack of lights. Manchester cyclist wages war against potholes. A New Zealand coroner says it should be mandatory for all cyclists to wear hi-viz clothing, even though it didn’t seem to help the cycling cop whose death led to his conclusion.

Finally, a writer for the BBC says evolution drives drivers to hate cyclists because we break the moral order of the streets; I know I try. Just Another Cyclist lists the cast of characters who inevitably show up in threads for such stories. Meanwhile, others reverse the dynamic by converting cars to bikes.

Happy Valentines Day to one and all. May you always know real love in your life.

 

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