Tag Archive for Westwood

Rolling down Rodeo Drive and the best of the Westside with the LACBC last Sunday

Some of the riders before the start, including the Spoke's Cynthia Rose in the purple top; photo courtesy of Harry Dougherty

Okay, so it turned out to be a very long ride.

When I mapped out a route for the I ♥ the Westside ride, the second in the LACBC’s new series of Sunday Funday rides, I rode the 28 mile route in about two hours without breaking a sweat.

So I added another hour to my estimate to allow for a series of five minute stops to discuss different cities and issues along the way. And then added another half hour just to be safe, and assumed everyone would be on their way home to watch the Super Bowl commercials by 1:30.

Paul Backstrom discusses the proposed Main Street road diet in Venice

Like the song says, it ain’t necessarily so.

What I hadn’t counted on was the need to stop — repeatedly — when riders were cut off by traffic or red lights. Not mention an unexpected encounter with the Sweet E’s Bakeshop truck in Culver City.

I learned a long time ago never to come between cyclists and their cupcakes.

In the end, we got back to our pier-side start point over an hour after what I thought was a very generous worst case scenario.

Rick Risemberg of Bicycle Fixation discusses native plants on Ballona Creek

On the other hand, we made it without a single flat or mechanical problem. And everyone who started out either made it to the finish with the rest of the group, or left along the route to meet other obligations.

That alone made it a successful ride in my book.

I also learned that leading a ride is a lot like hosting a party — you spend so much time looking after everyone that you barely spend time with anyone.

There were a lot of great people that I didn’t get to spend as much time with as I wanted. And some I didn’t get to meet at all, much to my regret. In fact, 42 riders started out, including four new members of the LACBC who signed up that morning.

An unexpected Culver City food truck encounter made it a very sweet ride

And everyone seemed to have a great time, myself included. Then again, any day on a bike is a good day, and the perfect Westside weather and great guest speakers just made it that much better.

We started off with a brief presentation from the LACBC affiliate Santa Monica Spoke’s Cynthia Rose, who offered a brief overview of the many projects the Spoke is working on to make L.A.’s city by the bay live up to it’s bike-friendly status.

After a brief jaunt down Main Street, I asked if anyone could tell me when we left Santa Monica and entered Los Angeles; not surprisingly, almost everyone was able to pinpoint the exact spot where the bike lanes ended, the road widened to two lanes and traffic sped up.

Jim Shanman discusses the work of the recently formed Culver City Bicycle Coalition

That lead to Paul Backstrom from Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s office speaking for a few minutes about the proposed road diet that would tame the L.A. section of Main, by creating a mirror image of the Santa Monica stretch. He noted that the city is working on solutions to move the bike lanes that would result out of the door zone, which has been fairly criticized in the original plans.

As we rode up Ballona Creek, Rick Risemberg, aka Mr. Bicycle Fixation and one of the city’s leading bike advocates, volunteered to talk about the native plants and rest area that had recently been installed along the bikeway, as well as a water filtration system designed to keep pollutants out of the bay.

Bikes roll down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills; photo courtesy of Joni Yung

When we got to Culver City, Jim Shanman spoke briefly about the efforts of the newly formed Culver City Bicycle Coalition and their work on the new Culver City bike plan. And invited everyone to come back to participate in the LACBC-affiliate group’s next monthly Family Ride on the 27th.

One of my first thoughts in planning this ride had been that I wanted to see bikes rolling down Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Bentley-choked Rodeo drive. But I regretted that I hadn’t had time to reach out to Mark Elliot of the group Better Bike Beverly Hills — yes, yet another LACBC affiliate — to join us on the ride.

Mark Elliot talks about Better Bike Beverly Hills' work to make the city friendlier to bikes

So while we were stopped in Culver City, I asked if any of the riders were from Beverly Hills. When one man raised his hand, I asked if he was involved with the BBBH.

He introduced himself as Mark, and said “I founded it.”

That was how I finally met Mark Elliot, one of my personal heroes among local bike advocates, if only because he’s taken on one of the hardest battles in the L.A. area.

So when we got to Beverly Hills — which currently lacks a single inch of bike lane — Mark spoke about the work his group has been doing to transform the Westside’s bicycling black hole into something more ridable. Including the group’s efforts to capitalize on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restructure Santa Monica Blvd to make it, not just safe for cyclists, but actually inviting for the countless riders who now go out of their way to avoid it.

I talked about the decline of Westwood and biking through the VA; photo courtesy of Joni Yung

At our stop in Westwood Village, I spoke briefly about the decline of one of the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods, and my personal vision to turn Westwood Blvd into a pedestrian walkway from Wilshire to the UCLA campus. We also discussed the new Veterans Administration master plan and the importance of regaining bike access through the Los Angeles National Cemetery, which was closed to bikes after 9/11 — evidently because of the threat that bicycles would pose to all the people buried there.

LACBC Executive Director Jen Klausner talks about the perils of riding and walking in Brentwood

Finally, Jen Klausner, Executive Director of the LACBC, spoke about the dangers that cyclists and pedestrians face in the Brentwood area, as well as the lack of adequate infrastructure to protect them from the dangerous behaviors and sense of entitlement displayed by many Westside drivers.

In the end, it was a great day, combining a fun, beautiful ride with an overview of local advocacy.

LACBC board member Alex Amerri (in white) will lead the next Sunday Funday ride March 6th

And it sets the stage for next month’s Sunday Funday #3, in which fellow board member Alex Amerri will lead a fast-paced 62-mile ride through the north San Gabriel Valley.

And riders on that one probably won’t have to worry about the group being broken up by red lights.

My thanks to everyone who turned out for the ride, especially Cynthia Rose, Paul Backstrom, Jim Stanman and Mark Elliot for their help in discussing the issues and opportunities for bicycling on the Westside. And special thanks to the LACBC’s Jen Klausner, Joni Yung, Alex Amerri, Greg Laemmle, Carol Feucht and Martin Lopez-lu for making it a success.

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Photo courtesy of Harry Dougherty

 

Harry Dougherty offers a great set of photos from Sunday’s ride — definitely better than my feeble attempts and worth the click to take a look.

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LAB calls on Colorado cyclists to support proposed legislation to fight the Black Hawk bike ban. I’d go a step further and encourage any cyclists to write in to support the legislation; Colorado’s economy depends on tourism, so your opinions on the misguided ban on bikes that could affect your decision to visit the state matters.

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The LACBC notes that a second workshop will be held Thursday night on the proposed redesign of the South Figueroa Corridor that could result in the city’s first true Complete Street, incorporating real pedestrian and bike access.

And don’t forget Wednesday’s 2:30 pm joint meeting of the City Council Transportation and Planning and Land Use Committees at Downtown City Hall to consider the city’s draft bike plan; this is the last public hearing before it goes to the full Council for approval. At the moment, it looks like illness will keep me away, but I urge you to show your support if you can make it.

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Kids, don’t try this at home! A cyclist was injured in a collision with a Blue Line train on Monday. According to authorities, he was holding onto a moving bus while wearing headphones and turned into the train when he let go.

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Long Beach finally eliminates their illegal bike licensing law. A driver sticks her neck out to support the Wilbur Ave road diet (scroll down). RSVP now for a free bicycle inspection and safety check workshop at the Bike Oven Wednesday night. The city’s first bike corral will be officially unveiled Friday morning in front of Café de Leche in Highland Park. CicLAvia invites you to help extend its route into South L.A. Flying Pigeon blogger Mickey Wally offers more of his great urban cycling photos. Green LA Girl talks with Jessica Meaney of Safe Routes to Schools. Car-less Valley Girl asks drivers not to mess with the balance on the street. How to contest a bad police collision report. Charlie Gandy talks about Long Beach’s bike-friendly successes in Corona del Mar. Tracking San Francisco’s most dangerous streets for cyclists. The Bay Citizen analyzes two years of bike collision data, and finds riders responsible for most wrecks — with the chief cause pedaling too fast. Huh? Now this kind of harassment from a passing car I wouldn’t complain about.

Dave Moulton says learn something from DC’s Swanson case, and don’t let matters surrounding the death of cyclist Ben Acree in San Diego last weekend drag on for three years. Better food and bicycling could be the cure for childhood obesity. If there’s a war on cars, then why are so many of the victims pedestrians (and cyclists)? Portland authorities search for the hit-and-run schmuck who ran down a stage 4 cancer patient. A Seattle lawyer jumps head-first into the Great Helmet Debate, concluding skid lids leave a lot to be desired. A Washington woman wins a lawsuit against REI for a defective bike part one day after she died in a backcountry accident. A Minneapolis study clearly shows the rate of bike crashes goes down as ridership increases. New York cyclists are up in arms over a citation to a rider for not wearing a helmet — even though that’s not illegal under New York law. A HuffPo writer urges a backlash to the New York anti-bike backlash. More than half a million New Yorkers ride more than once a month, but the Daily News hasn’t seemed to notice; makes you wonder what other stories they might be missing.

Brit blue-eyed soul singer Adele rides a bike. Pro cyclist Riccardo Riccò is hospitalized with kidney failure after allegedly botching a transfusion in an attempt to kick-start his comeback from a 2008 doping ban, while TdF winner Alberto Contador plans to fight the relative slap on the wrist Spanish authorities are reportedly planning to give him. Somehow, people shocked! shocked! to discover the windshield perspective of the host of the BBC’s top-rated Top Gear show; BBC radio is starting a 10 part series on the history of the bike.  L.A. cyclists have to contend with big ugly cars, while Dutch cyclists have to worry about big friendly dogs. The 2012 Olympic road course will finish with a sprint ending at Buckingham Palace; no word on whether the Queen’s corgis will be in attendance.

Finally, a non-bike related conclusion as a motorcyclist’s helmet cam shows exactly what it’s like to get rear-ended at stop, but without the pain, courtesy of Cyclelicious. Will Campbell plans a train-assisted March March through the real Eastside along historic Whittier Blvd; knowing both Will and Whittier, this one you won’t want to miss.

Anatomy of a bikeway — L.A.’s abandoned Class 1 bike path

In a city with so few bikeways, why would an off-road bike path over a mile long be forgotten — abandoned by cyclists and the city alike?

This Class 1 bike path runs south from Wilshire along Veteran, through the park, down Sepulveda, then several blocks west on Ohio.

Just a few blocks from the 275 foot long “stupidest bike lane in America,” you’ll find – if you look hard enough — a Class 1 bike path that should serve the massive biking population of UCLA, while providing a viable alternative to driving into car-clogged Westwood.

Yet few people even know it’s there.

It’s a bikeway that’s virtually unmarked, so hidden from view that I only found the final segment a few weeks ago when I decided to ride it from one end to the other.

This used to say Bike Path. I think.

Maybe I’m not very observant. Or maybe I just mistakenly assumed that a valuable asset like that would have signs indicating its existence.

Then again, I would also assume that it would be at least minimally maintained. While I understand that L.A. doesn’t have any legal responsibility to maintain any off-road path — having won their legal battle to absolve themselves of any liability for injuries suffered by cyclists — you would think common decency and human compassion would compel them to take some steps to protect the safety of those who might use it.

You would be wrong.

See any sign indicating a bike path? Me neither.

This path has been allowed to deteriorate to the point that it is virtually unridable in some places, putting the safety of less attentive riders at risk — particularly shameful since it runs through a public park and past a popular Little League field, explaining why most of the cyclists I’ve seen on it have been children.

This indentation is several inches deep — more than enough to catch the wheel of a passing cyclist.

However, the city may get an unpleasant surprise one of these days. Because the same law that the courts have ruled absolves the city of any liability for dangerous conditions on a Class 1 bike path also requires that adequate warning be provided for any known hazards.

And I can assure you that LADOT has been made aware of these conditions.

After all, I informed them myself.

One of the better sections of the path, and a great place to teach a child how to ride a bike.

And I saved a copy of the email, just in case anyone happens to need it.

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Bike Radar notes that two days remain to submit your thoughts on what constitutes harassment of cyclists on the streets of L.A. This year’s Amgen Tour of California kicks off with a Nevada City to Sacramento route on May 16. How to pee while riding your bike, male edition — step four, “Direct the stream away from you.”

If you want to keep cyclists from using a bike path, that’s a good way to do it.

A new book tells the story of how a masters cyclist recovered from a near-fatal broken neck to win 11 gold medals. South Dakota’s proposed three-foot passing law dies in committee. Forth Worth adopts a new bike plan with a 900% increase in biking infrastructure, including nearly 500 miles of on-street bike lanes. Central Oregon considers banning bike events on a popular racing route. A $10,000 racing bike stolen from Lance’s U23 development team is discovered in a Mexican flea market. Still drunk from the night before, a driver blames bright sunlight for why he struck and killed a Florida cyclist last fall. Biking continues despite the snowpacolypse. Finally, an Oxford, England cyclist has a unique approach to dealing with potholes — rather than complaining, he plants them with primroses. And You Are The Engine tells the tale of the first mile-a-minute cyclist, who accomplished the feat in 1899 by drafting on a steam engine train(!).

A cyclist on a bike can brake, turn or accelerate to avoid a collision; a rider walking his bike is a sitting duck if a driver runs the red light.

No signage indicating a bikeway here, either, but at least cars aren’t allowed on the sidewalk/bikeway. And yes, this is shown as a Class 1 bike path in the latest draft of the new bike plan.

These cracks rise several inches, and run most of the way across the path.

Note the faded yellow paint. Would you consider that an adequate hazard warning?

Now imagine encountering that after dark.

Of course, the crosswalk at Sepulveda and Ohio isn’t much better.

At Ohio, the bikeway turns west, sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians — few of whom seem to notice the faded markings on the cement.

At least this section has signs, though most people assume they indicate a bike lane in the street — which could be why most cyclists ride there, instead. And at the next intersection, cyclists going straight have to cross the path of drivers entering the VA grounds.

A simple adjustment in biking infrastructure, part 2

Let’s consider another easy fix the city could make right now, at virtually no cost.

Take the bike lanes along the recently rebuilt Santa Monica Boulevard.

In just a few short years, they’ve become one of the most popular riding routes through the Westside — largely because they’re among the few dedicated bike lanes than run on a major street. And the only ones I know that don’t run next to a parking lane, eliminating the risk of dooring.

On the other hand, you do have to deal the poorly designed crossover lanes, which force cyclists to dodge cars entering and exiting the roadway, as well as buses that cut into the bike lanes little or no warning.

bus-bike1Then there’s the way they end abruptly, dumping unsuspecting cyclists into the middle of a heavy high-speed traffic lane.

Although a large part of that problem, on the east end at least, stems from the transition from Los Angeles to Beverly Hills, which seems dead set against allowing bikeways to besmirch their gilded streets. If any city ever needed a Critical Mass…

One major advantage these lanes offer is the limited number of cross streets — only Beverly Glen, Westwood, Veteran and Sepulveda cross from both directions. All other streets enter from one side only, such as Avenue of the Stars and Century Park East and West in Century City, which enter from the south, and Selby, Kelton and Camden in Westwood, which come in from the north.

SM-Bike-Lane-1However, that means cyclists riding on the opposite side of the road often have to make a decision whether to obey the law, or common sense, when faced with a red light, with a clear lane in front of them and no cross traffic from any direction.

Some stop and wait alongside the idling vehicular traffic until the light turns green, for no other reason than it’s what the law requires. Most, however, proceed through the light, recognizing that stopping serves no purpose, in terms or safety or rationality — putting them at risk of a ticket, and pissing off every driver waiting for the light to change.

But all it would take to address the situation is one little sign at each of those intersections, saying “bikes proceed on red.”

That’s it.

Overnight, bike flow is improved and scofflaw cyclists are made legal — with zero impact on traffic.

The only possible risk would come from careless drivers who might drift into the bike lane while completing their turns on the boulevard. And even that could easily be addressed by placing a simple barrier — anything from plastic cones to a brief raised curb — on the outer edge of the bike lane.

Or better yet, install a raised curb along the entire length of the bike lanes, broken only by intersections, and crossover exit and entrance lanes.

Then cyclists would enjoy L.A.’s first separated bike lanes, at minimal cost to the city.

And the cars, motorcycles and other assorted motor vehicles that currently use the bike lanes to bypass stopped traffic would be banished once and for all.

This same approach could also be used on southbound Ocean Blvd in Santa Monica, another roadway where cyclists have to choose between breaking the law and stopping for no apparent reason.

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Gary writes movingly about that heartbreaking photo of Kylie Bruehler at the funeral of her tandem-riding parents. Even the positive Joe Linton criticizes L.A.’s proposed bike plan, while Stephen Box says stamp it Return to Sender and the BAC demands an extension of the comment period. Box also says a lack of bike parking makes cyclists second class citizens. While L.A. makes plans, Long Beach makes bikeways. GT shares a great route when you want to work hills. Will Campbell risks his credibility to register his bike. Oakland police try to link an online threat against cyclists to a hit-and-run driver who stood over his victim before fleeing the scene. More great photos from the Path Less Pedaled. Bob Mionske’s Blog takes a critical look at a wreck blamed on a sidewalk cyclist, which leads to a call for better police training. Famed framebuilder Dave Moulton continues his discussion on the evolution of frame design. Chicago Now takes a critical look at Critical Mass. Finally, a truly frightening photo of the aftermath of an S.F. dooring incident.

That’s so unL.A. — A formerly pedestrian-free crosswalk

Last week I posted a photo last week of the world’s first working, no-pedestrians-allowed crosswalk. And the last thing I expected was that someone would actually do something about it.

Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

For nearly three full days, no one even noticed. Then Damien Newton reposted it on Streetsblog LA. And then the snarky, justifiably outraged comments started pouring in. Traffic to my site went through the ceiling — well, it is a pretty low ceiling, after all. Other sites picked it up (thank you, Green LA Girl).

And then Damien had to go and ruin it all.

He emailed someone at L.A.’s Department of Transportation. And actually got a response.

Next thing you know, there’s a work crew on its way to take down the signs and turn it back into a real, functional crosswalk that actually allows pedestrians.

Sure enough, I went by this morning, and the signs are down. People were actually using it. No one was getting a ticket. And no one was getting run over.

westwood-2

So far, at least.

Now, if someone could just do something about the street next to my building, which is starting to look — and feel — like the famed cobblestones of Paris – Roubaix.

Pandora Street, between Eastborne and Santa Monica Blvd.

Pandora Street, between Eastborne and Santa Monica Blvd.

 

Reaview Rider gets challenged to a race, cyclist vs. motorcycle cop. Clean-up is completed along the Orange Line bikeway. Wisconsin lawmakers finally consider changing the law that penalizes the biking dooree, instead of the doorer. Cleveland riders are going to get their very own Bikestation, complete with lockers, showers and repair facilities; we can’t even get sharrows. And the stud factor for local cyclists just went up dramatically — evidently, Mr. Gyllenhaal is one of us.

That’s so unL.A. — A formerly pedestrian-free crosswalk

Last week I posted a photo last week of the world’s first working, no-pedestrians-allowed crosswalk. And the last thing I expected was that someone would actually do something about it.

Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

For nearly three full days, no one even noticed. Then Damien Newton reposted it on Streetsblog LA. And then the snarky, justifiably outraged comments started pouring in. Traffic to my site went through the ceiling — well, it is a pretty low ceiling, after all. Other sites picked it up (thank you, Green LA Girl).

And then Damien had to go and ruin it all.

He emailed someone at L.A.’s Department of Transportation. And actually got a response.

Next thing you know, there’s a work crew on its way to take down the signs and turn it back into a real, functional crosswalk that actually allows pedestrians.

Sure enough, I went by this morning, and the signs are down. People were actually using it. No one was getting a ticket. And no one was getting run over.

westwood-2

So far, at least.

Now, if someone could just do something about the street next to my building, which is starting to look — and feel — like the famed cobblestones of Paris – Roubaix.

Pandora Street, between Eastborne and Santa Monica Blvd.

Pandora Street, between Eastborne and Santa Monica Blvd.

 

Reaview Rider gets challenged to a race, cyclist vs. motorcycle cop. Clean-up is completed along the Orange Line bikeway. Wisconsin lawmakers finally consider changing the law that penalizes the biking dooree, instead of the doorer. Cleveland riders are going to get their very own Bikestation, complete with lockers, showers and repair facilities; we can’t even get sharrows. And the stud factor for local cyclists just went up dramatically — evidently, Mr. Gyllenhaal is one of us.

That’s so unL.A. — A formerly pedestrian-free crosswalk

Last week I posted a photo last week of the world’s first working, no-pedestrians-allowed crosswalk. And the last thing I expected was that someone would actually do something about it.

Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

For nearly three full days, no one even noticed. Then Damien Newton reposted it on Streetsblog LA. And then the snarky, justifiably outraged comments started pouring in. Traffic to my site went through the ceiling — well, it is a pretty low ceiling, after all. Other sites picked it up (thank you, Green LA Girl).

And then Damien had to go and ruin it all.

He emailed someone at L.A.’s Department of Transportation. And actually got a response.

Next thing you know, there’s a work crew on its way to take down the signs and turn it back into a real, functional crosswalk that actually allows pedestrians.

Sure enough, I went by this morning, and the signs are down. People were actually using it. No one was getting a ticket. And no one was getting run over.

westwood-2

So far, at least.

Now, if someone could just do something about the street next to my building, which is starting to look — and feel — like the famed cobblestones of Paris – Roubaix.

Pandora Street, between Eastborne and Santa Monica Blvd.

Pandora Street, between Eastborne and Santa Monica Blvd.

 

Reaview Rider gets challenged to a race, cyclist vs. motorcycle cop. Clean-up is completed along the Orange Line bikeway. Wisconsin lawmakers finally consider changing the law that penalizes the biking dooree, instead of the doorer. Cleveland riders are going to get their very own Bikestation, complete with lockers, showers and repair facilities; we can’t even get sharrows. And the stud factor for local cyclists just went up dramatically — evidently, Mr. Gyllenhaal is one of us.

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