Just a quick follow-up on last week’s post about the California Association of Bicycle Organization’s (CABO) opposition to the original intent of state assembly bill AB 819.
As originally written, AB 819 would have allowed California cities and counties to use infrastructure designs that have been proven safe and effective in other places, but haven’t been approved under Caltrans extremely conservative guidelines.
Unfortunately, at the urging of CABO, the bill was rewritten to force Caltrans to review any project that isn’t currently allowed under the MUTCD guidelines, adding a needless layer of red tape, delay and expense. And discouraging planners and designers from even attempting innovative projects that could encourage more riders and enhance safety.
And, I might add, allowing CABO to maintain their influence with Caltrans, which gives them a say on road and bike projects that far outweighs their small size — and gives them the opportunity to challenge projects that don’t meet their own conservative Vehicular Cycling bias.
Amid the incredible mass of comments in response to that post — 174 and counting, as of this morning — a couple stood out, and are worth bringing up to a wider audience reluctant to slog through the many, many critical and defensive points and counterpoints.
First up is this from Gary Kavanagh, author of Gary Rides Bikes, and one of the most intelligent analysts of biking issues I’ve encountered.
Something of great importance that has mostly been left out of this discussion is the impact of bike lanes and other facilities on other street users besides bicyclists. Streets that go through configuration changes to include bike lanes often see safety improvements across the board, including for pedestrians and drivers as well cyclists.
Something that has come up several times during the Santa Monica bike plan process was the results of the Ocean Park bike lane and road diet, which was initially installed as a trial project, and resulted in a 50% reduction in collisions of all kinds. Despite increased bicycle ridership, total bike collisions dropped as well.
Personally I wish the bike lanes were a little wider, with more room to buffer from doors, but it’s hard to argue that the changes to the street were a bad thing. The street became easier and safer to cross for pedestrians, bicyclists were given their own lane, which attracted more riders, but decreased collisions, and the travel time impact to drivers were minor, and fewer drivers collided with each other. It was a win win for everyone.
In New York some street reconfigurations reduced fatalities by so much, that it is literally increasing the average lifespan of New Yorkers because of the past years of traffic fatality reductions. Cities in California could be learning and implementing based on the successes elsewhere, but instead we will continue to be hobbled by having approval go through the unresponsive Caltrans.
As leading L.A. cycling advocate Roadblock put it in response —
This comment basically hits the ball out of the park into the next town folks.
I should also mention that Roadblock, and several others, argued passionately throughout the comments in support of better infrastructure and non-vehicular cyclists. It’s definitely worth taking the time to read all the comments if you have the time.
Then there’s this from DG —
I was somewhat impressed that the CABO people were willing to try to defend their views here, until I read this by (Dan) Gutierrez above: “Since you support segregated infrastructure, there are plenty of other organizations better suited to your interests.”
You’re absolutely right, bikinginla: CABO is an anti-biking fraud if they think bike lanes (AKA “segregated infrastructure”) are not an essential part of bike safety. Of course, bike lanes are expensive, and CABO provides a fig-leaf for avoiding that expense.
And that’s the problem. Or at least, one of them.
Even though they changed their mind later, CABO’s initial opposition to California’s proposed three-foot passing law gave cover for groups and individuals who opposed the bill entirely, from AAA to Caltrans and the CHP.
After all, they might reason, if even cyclists don’t support it, why should we?
Their opposition gave Governor Brown an excuse to veto it, placing countless cyclists in continued danger from dangerous motorists. And making Jerry Browned the new bike slang for getting dangerously buzzed by a passing vehicle.
Don’t misunderstand me.
I am not opposed to CABO. As they point out in the comments — over and over again — they’ve done some good work to benefit California riders.
What I am opposed to is a small organization professing to speak on behalf of California cyclists while seeming to stand in the way of the bills and projects we want.
If CABO truly believes they are misunderstood and unappreciated, as their responses indicate, maybe they should take a hard look at why so many cyclists are so angry with them.
Because that anger certainly didn’t start with anything I wrote.
The need for safer streets was driven home by a collision suffered by reader and frequent tipster Todd Mumford, who offers a badly broken bike as evidence.
I was heading down Federal Ave. from my office on Wilshire/Federal. About a quarter mile down the road, just as the hill gets a little steeper, there is a cross street (Rochester) with a two-way east/west stop. The car seemed to be checking both ways, but all of a sudden they just roll right across the road as I am coming down the road. There were no cars behind me, the closest car in front of me was about 4 or so car lengths in front of me and no cars were coming up the hill. I have two bright blinkers on the front of my bike, along with reflective sidewalls on my tires and a bright fluorescent green jacket. The driver obviously didn’t look carefully before proceeding across the street. When I realized that the driver was actually rolling into my path, I slammed on my brakes and turned to avoid them, but ended up laying my bike down and sliding right into the passenger side of their car, slamming it really hard. The driver stopped and was really freaked out, but glad he didn’t actually have a dead cyclist on his hands. He gave me his info and hung out while I waited for my wife to pick me up. Also, a few other cars and pedestrians stopped to check on me. Unfortunately, none of them were actually there to witness the collision.
Fortunately, he didn’t suffer any serious injuries — just a lot of painful ones, with major bruising and road rash. Here’s hoping he heals fast, and gets back out on a new bike soon.
As an aside, Todd is working with his wife and brother to get a new microbrewery up and running Downtown later this year. They’ve already got the beers, now all they need is a location. And money. If you’re in the market to invest, a bike-friendly microbrewery might be a tasty place to start.
You can follow their progress on their website and on Twitter @MumfordBrewing.
My apologies to everyone who has sent me links lately, especially in regards to Gene Hackman getting hit by a car while not wearing a helmet, the anti-bike ravings of Aussie Cricketeer Shane Warne, and the jerk who physically assaulted Long Beach bike expats The Path Less Pedaled in New Zealand, leading to the two-fisted driver’s arrest.
I’m still crunching numbers on last year’s far too high total of 71 bike riders killed on SoCal streets — 80 if you count gunshot victims. I’ll try to get back to my normal link-loving self soon.
And don’t assume that my posting today means I’m not in support of the opposition to SOPA; a tight schedule this week just means I have to post when I can.
Finally, a quick shout out to Mr. Salamon’s class; I truly enjoyed meeting and talking with you yesterday.
I’m not a huge fan of CABO, but just to set the record straight: CABO didn’t “change their mind” about SB910. They opposed it while it contained language that allowed high-speed very-close passing; when that language was changed, they supported it. They have been consistent in their opposition to high-speed close passing (as am I).
CABO opposed SB910 while it contained the provision allowing passing at less than three feet if the driver slowed to 15 mph or less above the speed of the rider being passed — a provision that was not only dangerous, but completely unenforceable as it required to driver to first determine how fast the cyclist was riding.
The problem is, rather than oppose that provision, as I, Calbike and numerous others did, while continuing to support the bill as a whole, CABO chose to call for the defeat of SB910 — giving support to the anti-bike organizations that opposed it, as well.
They did eventually endorse the bill once that provision was changed to allow passing at less than three feet at speeds below 15 mph. However, by that point, the damage had been done; they were on record as opposing the bill, and demonstrating an apparent rift in the biking community over SB910 that our opponents were able to exploit in getting Gov. Brown to veto the bill.
It was, at best, a clumsy political move. And we all paid the price for it.
That explanation makes a lot more sense.
[…] CABO Strikes Back. Bike Group Reacts to Attacks on Biking In L.A. […]
[…] Biking in LA Highlights the Online Debate With CABO on Protected Bikeway Bill […]
I can also point to an example of where adding bicycle lanes and a road diet made it easier for Emergency Vehicles to get to their destinations.
The road was 4 lanes (2 lanes in each direction), was lightly used, but observed average speeds were well above the posted 35 mph.
When there was a crush of traffic, the road could become totally blocked in both directions. This wasn’t a common occurrence, but it did happen, to the detriment of a police department and a fire station located on this road. In addition the high speeds of traffic could be cause for concern and delay.
Now, the road has a center turn lane its entire length, and the speeds of the cars has dropped to 35 or under. Emergency vehicles can leave their garage with less waiting to look/wait for speeding cars and even if a backup should occur, have the dedicated left-turn lane to use in order to pass stopped traffic. And the project actually created some on-street parking to boot!