Tag Archive for Will Campbell

A UPS SaMo minor bike lane miracle, and Sunday Funday Beverly Thrills fun was had by all

I’m a firm believer in miracles.

I’ve learned over the years that they tend not to occur with a parting of the skies and a booming voice from above, but in small ways that you might not even notice at the time.

Like the Venice Blvd cab driver who pulled out from the curb too quickly, and set Mayor Villaraigosa on the path to unexpected bicycle advocate.

But I never expected one to come in the form of a Twitter comment from UPS.

Recently, I’ve had my fill of UPS drivers parking their big ass brown trucks in the bike lanes on Ocean Ave in Santa Monica. Something that seems to be happening with increasing frequency in recent weeks, forcing riders to share a lane with dangerously distracted, beach-air addled drivers.

So when it happened once again on Friday, I stopped to take a photo. And when I got home, tweeted my frustration to the world, never expecting a response.

Yet that’s exactly what I got just moments later from UPS Customer Support. So at their request, I followed up with an email, including a close-up of the truck’s license plate.

About an hour later, I was on the phone with a local representative, who promised me that the problem would be dealt with promptly. And that they would speak with local supervisors and dispatchers to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

We’ll see.

But UPS earned some real respect for genuine customer service. And to a non-customer, no less.

It may not be a real miracle, even if it seems that way. But if more companies dealt with complaints that promptly and efficiently — or even just gave a damn — it would be a much better world.

And that really would be a miracle.

………

Will Campbell and John Wayne at the beginning of the ride; Will is the one on the bottom.

Allow me to offer my personal thanks to Will Campbell and special guest Mark Elliot for a truly thrilling Beverly Thrills Sunday Funday ride this past weekend.

Along with Greg Laemmle, Colin Bogart, Eric Weinstein, Niall Huffman, Carol Feucht and designated Tweeter Joni Yung for their contributions to ensuring a safe and enjoyable ride for everyone.

Not mention everyone who showed up to ride.

Or rather, especially everyone who showed up to ride.

Will offered a fun, insightful and entertaining tour of the biking black hole of Beverly Hills, starting with the very street where he learned to ride a bike (mumble mumble) years ago. And extended past the soon-to-be exploding Beverly Hills High School to sites such as the homes where gangster and Las Vegas founder Bugsy Siegel met his ignoble end, and Marilyn Monroe and Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio shared a whole nine months of connubial bliss.

The only downside was the Beverly Hills cop who decided to welcome us to their fair city by using his loudspeaker to order everyone to ride single file — which not only isn’t required under California law, but would have inconvenienced the exceptionally light vehicular traffic even more by stretching the 40 – 50 riders out over several blocks.

On the other hand, even though we were cruised by several other patrol cars over the course of the ride, the only other contact we had with the BHPD was a friendly wave in passing.

Mark Elliot shares his remarkably in-depth recap of the ride, and Hap Dougherty offers his typically great photos of the day.

And Will himself offers an exceptional timelapse video cutting the four hour ride down to a very fast and entertaining 11 minutes; don’t miss the rapid-fire notations in the upper right.

Seriously, it’s more than worth the click.

………

A preliminary hearing opened Monday for the two men charged with killing developmentally disabled cyclist Jordan Hickey in National City last year. According to testimony from a friend, Humberto Galvez and Juan Gomez bragged about murdering Hickey, reportedly picking their victim at random and shooting him three times with a shotgun as he rode.

Just for the fun of it.

Hickey’s mother understandingly lost control during the testimony and had to be escorted from the courtroom.

There’s not a pit in hell deep enough for these two alleged psychopaths.

………

LADOT General Manager Jaime de la Vega reports on what he calls L.A.’s best year ever for bicycles.

The 2011 – 2012 fiscal year saw 76 miles of new bikeways, nearly double the number the city committed to in the bike plan adopted last year. That includes 51 miles of bikeways, 21 miles of sharrows and 4 miles added to the Orange Line bikeway, as the city starts to see the beginnings of an actual bike network.

The most intriguing part, for me at least, was acknowledgement that LADOT is shifting from a historic focus on maximizing automotive throughput to a more complete focus on all forms of transportation.

Can the former department of automobiles really help the city of Angels evolve into the type of metropolis that embraces cyclists, pedestrians, and transit?

We think the answer is an unequivocal “yes”.

LADOT is committed to making Los Angeles a place where cyclists are safe and city streets make room for bicycles.

We’ll wait for Joe Linton’s analysis of just how accurate the city’s claimed mileage actually is. But just looking at L.A.’s new and improved streets suggests that LADOT is more than fulfilling their promise.

And that things really have changed in the department local cyclists have long loved to hate.

Meanwhile, the department presents their progress to the City Council Transportation Committee, and improves signage to help cyclists stay alive during the Riverside Dr. bridge reconstruction.

………

Mark Cavendish pulls another Tour de France stage win out of his hat, while Spartacus keeps the yellow jersey. World time trial champ Tony Martin steps up to stage 2 despite a broken hand. And evidently, 22-year old Peter Sagan really is that good, the youngest stage winner in nearly 20 years.

Once again, however, we should note that only Americans with names that start with L — LeMond, Lance and, briefly, Landis — have won le Tour.

Which means Levi Leipheimer remains our best hope for victory.

………

People for Bikes reports on the new federal transportation bill that dramatically cuts funding for bike and pedestrian projects. They won’t say it, but let’s remember which of our elected officials attacked cycling and/or sold us out, and cast our votes accordingly in the fall.

Meanwhile, PfB staffer Kate Powlison is among the five women riding the entire Tour de France course one day ahead of the men. Their stated goal is to inspire women to ride more often, and encourage people everywhere to tackle dreams that seem impossible.

Maybe so.

But hopefully they’ll also inspire professional cycling to open more doors for women, either by a vastly improved women’s tour or by opening top level professional teams to female riders.

You can’t tell me that the best women aren’t as good or better than many of the men who fill out the support roles.

And might even kick some ass if given the chance.

………

Tomorrow marks L.A.’s can’t miss bike sale with the annual 4th of July Blowout Sale at Helen’s in Santa Monica and Arcadia. And just a few blocks away, Cynergy Cycles is extending their No Tax sale through the 4th.

Any other big bike sales we should know about this week?

………

Flying Pigeon offers tongue-in-cheek advice — at least I hope it’s tongue-in-cheek — on how to take your vehicular cycling to the next level. Sunday’s Peace, Love and Family ride catches the eyes of local residents. Richard Risemberg reviews the Bromptons they took to Denver. LADOT kicks off the environment impact reviews that will determine if 43 miles of projected bikeways will ever be built. The LAPD reports on a four-month old biking under the influence arrest that left a 50-year old rider injured; something tells me there’s more to the story if they’re bringing this up after so long. Beverly Hills police let a road raging driver off the hook. New bike lanes appear in El Sereno. East Side Bike Club is hosting a 4th of July Ride to see the fireworks in Alhambra. Over at CLR Effect, Michael encounters an unpleasant odor that isn’t the rider next to him, and notes that Glendora Mountain Road will be closed to motor vehicle traffic on the 4th of July, allowing for an unofficial high country ciclovía.

Readers respond to OC Register columnist David Whiting’s recent column calling for more courtesy on multi-use trails. An Orange County florist gets attention with a bicycle through the store’s front window. More on La Mesa cyclist Nicola Grossi, who lost 120 pounds in just two years of riding before dying in a solo collision on Saturday during the Climb to Kaiser ride. San Francisco bike corrals transform 30 parking spaces into 336 spaces for bikes. The Santa Rose Press Democrat says patient, defensive riding is the key to bike safety; they’re right, of course, but only because too many motorists can’t be bothered to do the same.

American cyclist and former model Dotsie Bausch overcomes anorexia to complete for the U.S. cycling team in the London Olympics. You can now get bike insurance if you live in the Portland area. A Utah man stabs a cyclist and a steals his bike; police find the bike in the laundry room of the thief’s building. Denver authorities crack down on scofflaw cyclists — including ticketing a rider for not putting his foot down on a stop, which isn’t illegal. A 90-year old Eau Claire driver kills a cyclist while driving on an off-road bike path; thanks to Witch on a Bicycle for the link. A Lancaster NY cyclist is killed by a dump truck; I usually pull off the road when I find one behind me, since they scare me as much as anything else on the road.

In shocking news, a Canadian study finds off-road mountain biking can be dangerous, and that bears often defecate in forested areas. Evidently, cowardly, murderous hit-and-run bastards aren’t just an American phenomenon — which is one word I have never spelled correctly in my life. Irish authorities consider a plan to fine parents if their children don’t wear helmets. A London lawyer is left with life-changing injuries after his skull is fractured when he’s hit in a crosswalk by a serial red light running cyclist, proving that not all bastards are on four wheels. While other traffic casualties have dropped, serious cycling casualties and pedestrian deaths have spiked in London. A new sign design warns cyclists about the dangers of big trucks. What if roads were designed the same way bikeways are? David Hembrow says the right to ride on any roads may not always be in cyclists’ best interests. Dutch police commandeer a tractor to chase down three bike thieves.

Finally, a deeply offended neighborhood watch group calls on L.A. to ban the annual Naked Bike Ride. Maybe if they didn’t watch so closely, they wouldn’t be so offended.

And just in time for the 4th, here’s your new bike anthem for the summer.

Let’s be careful out there this week. The period around the 4th is traditionally one of the most dangerous times for SoCal cyclists. Ride safely and defensively, so you can enjoy a lifetime of Independence Day riding.

Will Campbell ups the Sunday Funday ante with this weekend’s Beverly Thrills Ride

So what are you doing Sunday morning?

One of the more enjoyable duties expected of an LACBC board member is to lead one of the popular Sunday Funday Rides.

In other words, we get to plan out a ride and spend a pleasant L.A. morning exploring this megalopolis we call home with a group of equally pleasant cyclists of every possible description.

Tough duty, I know.

And this Sunday is my turn.

On the other hand, I’ve always wanted to join in on one of the great rides lead by popular cyclist, blogger and big-hearted budding animal control officer Will Campbell.

If you’ve never been on one of his rides — and you can count me among that unfortunate group — you’ve missed out on what I’m told are some of the most entertaining bike rides in this City of Angels. And led by a native Angeleno — and survivor of the highly explosive Beverly Hills High — with a knowledge of local trivia unmatched by anyone, anywhere.

Or so I’m told.

Seemed like a no-brainer to me.

And just like that, Will graciously agreed to lead what will forever hence be known as the Beverly Thrills Ride, exploring the facts, fiction, food and fallacies of the biking black hole of Beverly Hills. The famous and infamous, the silly, salacious and sanctimonious sides of the city paved, figuratively at least, in Swarovski.

It starts at the incongruously placed statue of John Wayne at 8484 Wilshire Blvd, on the eastern end of the Flynt Enterprises building, home to videos and publications guaranteed to make the Duke blush. Maybe that’s why Wayne seems to be riding off, if not into the sunset, at least away.

The ride assembles at 9 am and departs sharply at 9:30 for what Will describes as an easy to moderate three hour ride with just a few gradual inclines.

In fact, the steepest climbs will undoubtedly be in disposable incomes, as we traverse from what passes for the poor part of the city where the hoi polloi huddle to the gold encrusted gates of the rich and fabulous.

And I’m told we can expect a cameo appearance by Better Bike’s Mark Elliot, the man almost singlehandedly fighting to make Beverly Hills bike friendly — a task even Don Quixote would consider hopelessly daunting.

It promises to be an exceptionally fun, can’t miss ride. So don’t.

In other words, be there or… well, just be there.

Seriously.

………

Just a few other notes before I settle in for some desperately needed beauty sleep.

No, really.

You haven’t seen me lately. And there’s just not enough left in the budget for Botox before biking to Beverly Hills.

The busy San Gabriel River Bike Path is reopened and rededicated after being resurfaced in Long Beach and Seal Beach.

An Oklahoma driver forces two cyclists off the road, then steals one rider’s bike at make-believe gunpoint — and later tells police she bought it for $20.

And finally, evidently Saudi Arabia takes traffic crimes seriously, as a Saudi man is sentenced to beheading for killing two onlookers while drifting.

I mean, I’ve seen a lot of drivers lose their heads.

But never literally.

Giving credit for L.A.’s anti-harassment ordinance, the backlash begins & fighting blocked bike lanes

Catching up from last week, it seems the successful passage of L.A.’s anti-harassment ordinance is making waves, though not necessarily the way we might have hoped.

Despite a number of council and committee hearings as it glacially made its way through the development process leading up to unanimous approval by the city council, many motorists seemed to be blindsided by the new ordinance.

Which is what tends to happen when you don’t pay any attention to your own government.

One thing that seems to have been forgotten in the cycling community’s celebration over the passage of the anti-harassment ordinance is the role the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition played in seeing this law through from the very beginning.

It’s true that Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and his aide Paul Backstrom deserve the lion’s share of credit, along with Judith Reel — who had the stroke of genius to make this a civil, rather than criminal, law — and LADOT’s Michele Mowery. No one can understate the important roll attorneys Ross Hirsch and Daniel Jimenez played in vetting the wording, or the vital support of Bicycle Advisory Committee President Jay Slater and other members of the BAC in getting it passed.

And let’s not forget the work of LADOT Bike Blog’s Chris Kidd in explaining and carrying the torch for this bill.

But I remember committee meetings where the only cyclists present were myself and representatives from the LACBC.

I don’t mention this because I’m on the board of the coalition.

But because it was the hard work of Aurisha Smolarsky, Dorothy Le, Jen Klausner and Allison Mannos in fighting for this bill that convinced me to join the LACBC and become a board member in the first place. As well as Alexis Lantz, who later took over for Aurisha in fighting behind the scenes to make this law as strong as it could be and help ensure its passage.

Without their hard work, this law might not exist today. And it certainly wouldn’t be as strong as it turned out to be.

……..

Road.cc looks at L.A.’s bicycle anti-harassment ordinance, while KPCC says L.A. cyclists get the toughest protections in the U.S.; personally, I might question that since this is a civil, rather than criminal, law. The C-Blog offers a well-written and thoughtful response to KABC radio in defense of the ordinance. Writing for Orange 20, Rick Risemberg says common decency now has some teeth, while a conservative writer calls it a terrible law that will lead to legal motorist shakedowns. And our neighbors to the south don’t seem too interested in following our lead.

The L.A. Times calls it a smart law; unfortunately, some of their readers don’t get it, despite intercession by Sgt. Krumer to explain what the law does and doesn’t do.

Sgt. David Krumer at 12:34 AM July 22, 2011

Hello motorist,

It appears that some folks are not exactly sure what harassment means within the context of the ordinance.  You can still yell at a cyclist who engages in bad behavior.  You can not however threaten a cyclist with physical harm or make comments like “I am going to run you over.”  You also can not engage in conduct that is likely to put a cyclist in harms way such as:

1) Revving your engine multiple times as it is an implied threat that they may get run over if they don’t move out of the way.

2) Tailgating a cyclist

3) Passing a cyclist at too high a speed or to close a distance so as to scare or intimidate them off the road.

4) Riding up at a high rate of speed and honking at a cyclist (this has caused cyclists to get scared and fall of their bikes).

Hope this sheds light on what “harassment” means.  In short it is an ordinance that prohibits threats (explicit and implied) as well as behavior likely to cause injury.

Meanwhile, one reader suggests, in what we can only hope is a failed attempt at humor, that drivers should eliminate anyone who might be able to testify against them:

edwardskizer at 3:50 PM July 23, 2011

Drivers frustrated by this law have to remember just one rule: leave no witnesses.

Yes, very funny indeed. And that Dr. Thompson thing in Mandeville Canyon was a real knee-slapper, too.

Or if you want to waste an hour of your life and churn your stomach after realizing the sort of people we have to share the streets with, read the comments to this Times story.

Then again, L.A. isn’t the only place that needs a law like this.

……..

After years of effort from countless cyclists — myself included — Flying Pigeon finally tracks down the people who are responsible for doing something about blocked bike lanes, including all those damn trash cans.

And AAA responds to Will Campbell’s complaint about opposing California’s proposed three-foot passing law; not surprisingly, they don’t apologize or change their minds.

Which makes me think it may be time for cyclists to consider an auto club that doesn’t support a driver’s right to pass dangerously close.

……..

Congratulations to Cadel Evans for an unexpected victory in the Tour de France, and the first ever victory for the land down under, as his countrymen rejoice but don’t get a day off. He now tops the UCI rankings, as well.

The Schleck brothers finish second and third, while Mark Cavendish takes the points prize, noting that it didn’t come easy. Andy Schleck, or possibly his brother Frank, appeared to have the race won until they cracked and Cadel crashed through to victory.

Michael from Claremont Cyclist offers some great final thoughts. The Wall Street Journal looks at the Jackie Robinson of cycling. Thomas Voeckler fought the good fight to hold the yellow jersey longer than anyone thought he could.

Unfortunately, the North American contingent didn’t exactly impress.

……..

Will offers suggestions to improve that scary tunnel at the top of Sepulveda Blvd. A local cyclist had his bike confiscated after riding on the 405 during Carmegeddon, and asks you to buy a t-shirt to help get it back. With little luck and effort, Bicycle Priority Zones could soon spread across the county. Better Bike complains about politicians low-balling bikes at the last Westside COG meeting. The Times looks at the tweet that lead to a $7000 donation to the LACBC; in a final note to the story, the guy who sold his own car to make that donation had his bike stolen over the weekend. Working to make Beverly Hills more bike friendly; who knew they actually have bike racks? Gary Kavanagh writes about the lessons learned from the recent Carmageddon. Local Linus bikes are featured in a new fashion video. Six SoCal firefighters ride cross-country to honor 9/11 victims.

Long Beach starts a new bike safety campaign to remind cyclists to stay off the sidewalk. Complaints that cyclists don’t stop for a Newport Beach stop sign lead to the observation that hardly anyone does. Joe Linton rides the bike path along San Diego County’s San Luis Rey River. A Redding writer says he doesn’t see how a 3-foor passing law could make a lick of difference. The fight over San Francisco bike lanes moves to crosstown streets.

Levis unveils their new Commuter Jeans, complete with a U-lock loop. Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club wants more women riders on the road. After winning a new Trek Madone, Springfield Cyclist puts his old bike up for sale, and will donate the sale price — plus an additional $100 — to support victims of the devastating Joplin tornado earlier this year. A pair of blind riders take on RAGBRAI. Advice on how to deal with riding to work on a hot day. New York drivers turn a sidewalk and bike path into a DIY shortcut. The bike wars go on in Virginia Beach VA, where cyclists were recently treated to tacks on a popular riding route. The Tallahassee Democrat says cyclists have rights on the road, too.

Mexico considers investing the equivalent of $120 million in bikes and infrastructure. Do wobbly cyclists calm traffic? A UK man and woman are sentenced for severely beating a cyclist for no apparent reason. The 10 worst gyratories in London; and yes, I had to look it up myself. Fifty-four percent of English children want to ride their bikes more. A driver says he’d rather kill a cyclist and possibly himself than hit a family in a car; good response from bike writer Carlton Reid. Great bike illustrations from a Dublin artist. Town Mouse visits France and falls in love with a local bike. An Aussie cyclist is critically injured in a collision with possible U.S. Navy personnel.

Finally, while the UK is taking posties off their Pashleys, the USPS is putting bikes on their stamps. And a Florida judge ignores the law to blame the victim of a road rage assault for riding too far from the curb; let’s hope L.A. jurists are more enlightened when the first cases under the new anti-harassment ordinance come to court.

Come back later tonight when I’ll post a harrowing first-person account of the collision that left cyclist Adam Rybicki fighting for his life, and a call for justice from the riders who barely avoided serious injury along with him

Is a ghost bike appropriate for a teenage gun shot victim?

When I lived down south, I had a great apartment in a park-like 1920s neighborhood that was the envy of all my friends.

The only problem was — and the reason I could afford it — it was right next to one of the worst high-crime neighborhoods in town. One that I had to ride through if I was going to get anywhere.

I never thought much about though, until one night when I was on my way home from a late-evening ride and found myself stopped at a red light, well after dark.

A small group of men were gathered on the corner. And sure enough, as I waited for the light to change, four or five of them started walking towards me, looking very unfriendly despite their broad smiles.

“Nice bike, man.”

“I bet I’d look good on that bike.”

“Maybe you should let me ride it.”

Fortunately, right about then, the traffic cleared. And I took off on a sprint that would have won most stages of the Tour de France.

Later, when I discussed it with a friend of mine on the local police force, he suggested that in the future I should just run all the red lights and stop signs in that neighborhood. “There’s not a cop in the world that would give you a ticket for that,” he said.

Somehow, I have a feeling the LAPD might disagree.

I was reminded of that this evening when I read this post from Will Campbell.

It seems he was stopped at a red light at National and Venice, when a beat-up car blaring rap music pulled up on his left.

“That’s a nice bike, ” says the passenger to me over the lyrics that are mainly muthafuckin this and the muthafuckin that.

At face value that may seem a nice thing to say. But more often than not, such a statement is not a nice thing. More often than not, such a statement is not a compliment. More often than not it is not paid by a Century City lawyer or a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, but rather by some covetous lowlife, and it translates roughly into “I want your bike.” It’s a statement in the form of a demand along the converse lines that  “Where you from?” is a demand in the form of a statement. In short, it’s mostly rhetorical and arrives carrying a lot of baggage.

I give him a glance to find him presenting a general demeanor that would qualify as a definite lowlife. The hairs on my arms rise.

“Thanks!” I say too cheerily and I watch him looking over 8Ball like it’s another guy’s girl that he wants to get to know better 10 minutes ago. Looking away and ignoring him might have been the better tactic, But I didn’t employ it.

“What’ll you give me for it?” I ask and he takes his eyes off the bike and puts them on me and sits up a bit.

“How ’bout a beating?”

Fortunately, after a tense stare-down, both men in the car started laughing. “Nah, man. I’m just fuckin’ witcha,” he said, before driving off.

But it brings up yet another risk cyclists face on the streets.

Unlike drivers, who can lock their doors and roll up their windows — yet still risk getting jacked — cyclists are exposed and vulnerable to whoever might be passing by at any given moment. And we’ve got something worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars tucked between our legs, as well as wallets, cell phones and iPods in many cases.

Most of the time, it’s not a problem.

You keep your eyes open, and try to avoid certain streets and circumstances, especially after dark. Just like you would if you were on foot.

But things can happen. And you never know when you could find yourself in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people.

Like the mini crime-wave that stuck the Ballona Creek bikeway a couple years ago, prompting cyclists to reclaim the bike path. Or the female rider struck in the face with a baseball bat in a robbery attempt, or the two cyclists shot and wounded in separate incidents on the same night last year.

And it’s not just limited to L.A. Clearly, it can happen anywhere.

And does.

Then there’s this tragic incident that occurred yesterday in Paicoma, in which two teenage cyclists with no apparent gang ties were shot in an attack police believe was gang related — evidently, simply because they were riding their bikes in the wrong place at the wrong time.

According to the LAPD blog,

On March 8, 2010 at around 6:44 p.m., officers from the Foothill Division responded to a radio call of an “Ambulance Shooting” on the 11200 block of Dronefield Avenue in Pacoima.  When officers arrived they found two male juveniles suffering from gunshot wounds.  The victims were 15 and 16-years-old, their names are being withheld.  Both victims were transported to a local hospital where the 15-year-old died from his wounds.  The 16-year-old was treated and remains hospitalized in stable condition.

A subsequent investigation determined that the victims were riding bicycles on Dronefield Avenue when a black vehicle, unknown make or model approached. An unknown male Hispanic suspect in the vehicle fired several rounds striking the victims multiple times.  This case is believed to be gang related, but neither victim has apparent gang ties.  There is no additional suspect information and the weapon is still outstanding.

Police ask anyone with information to call LAPD’s Foothill Homicide Detectives Gahry or Martinez at 818-834-3115.

We live with violence in our city by telling ourselves it doesn’t affect us, and can’t happen here.

But this young man was someone’s son.

He lived in this city.

And he died as one of us.

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