LA’s last Critical Mass of the year honors the city’s fallen cyclists. As LA still works on wayfinding signage, other local cities point the way. That stooped tall bike gets even stoopidly taller, and more LA-centric. A road diet wish list for the Eastside. It’s now legal to park your car at a broken meter, but still illegal to park your bike at one in LA, whether it works or not. Santa Monica writer says all those new bike lanes will cause more congestion, rather than relieving it. From rising bike riding 1940’s starlet to hunting accident paraplegic, and dead at 31.
California’s three-foot passing law goes into effect in 2014, but not until September. San Diego’s BikingBrian tours the Oregon coast on video. Getting around Catalina by bike. Cal Fire rescues an injured mountain biker near Lake Elsinore. Bike riders are the real scofflaws on our streets, right? Woodland writer says taxing bikes — and pedestrians — isn’t a bad idea; a self-proclaimed scofflaw cyclist and tax specialist echoes those thoughts. A Chico paper calls on the city to rethink, rather than close, a bike path.
The top 10 bike stories of 2013. A new lighted bike suit makes you look like a comic book superhero; or you could just put lights on your bike. If someone booby-trapped a highway in a way that could kill a motorist, they’d face criminal charges; do it on an Albuquerque bike path, and it’s just a dangerous prank. A Texas bike blogger is killed despite campaigning for safer streets. A St. Louis cycling instructor claims bike lanes are dangerous with no evidence to back it up. A Milwaukee cyclist is killed in a hit-and-run by driver with 13 previous traffic violations — yes, 13 and still driving. Even Boston liberals hate bikes, while a bike riding Boston letter writer says I’m okay, but the rest of you suck. New York’s New Year’s Eve ball drop will be powered by Citibikes. DC writer takes newspaper to task for not showing riders in bike helmets — in a story about bike theft, no less; I’m a firm believer in helmet use, but contrary to popular opinion, they aren’t magic devices that ward off all risk of injury to the wearer. Orlando cop kills a cyclist in a collision; witnesses say the officer wasn’t at fault. Learning to ride a bike in Margaritaville.
Bike use is booming in Latin America. Bicycle-oriented Mexican town fights for the country’s first slow zone. Nice interview with Chris Bruntlett of Vancouver Cycle Chic. Jamaican cyclist Horace McFarlane arrested on drug charges. Bike Radar looks at the unique partnership between supercar maker McLaren and the copyright bullies of Specialized. Brit cyclist is honored as a hero for saving two girls from an attacking dog. The Royal Mail throws in the towel on bike deliveries; meanwhile, I’ve heard several reports of UPS delivering by bike in the LA area. TdF champ Chris Froome picks the Cannibal’s brain on how to win riding clean. Scot motorists are glad more bike riders are getting tickets. Kolkata police say there’s no proof banning bikes will improve traffic. Taiwan cyclists will be included in holiday DUI stops. Kiwi bike riders call for changes in the country’s mandatory helmet law. Two Aussie men face charges for whacking cyclists with a rolled-up newspaper from a passing car. A British woman sets a new record by bicycling to the South Pole.
Finally, the next time someone says cycling isn’t safe, remind them you’re not even safe from drunk drivers in your own home; turns out the killer driver had a history of DUI and couldn’t legally be on the road, but was anyway.
Just a quick note that I was not the Texas bike blogger that was killed this time. [Monty Python] I’m not dead yet! [/Monty Python]
In response to your comment that “A St. Louis cycling instructor claims bike lanes are dangerous with no evidence to back it up” – This very blog is full of such evidence. Like this and this, in just the past few days. Bike lanes are blind spots, pushing cyclists to the margins of the road, where they can be ignored – and killed. I ride all over the place, using sensible lane control, and staying out of bike lanes with VERY rare exception. Before I did that, cycling was filled with danger. Now, it has been entirely free of nervous moments, save for the occasional jerk yelling out his window.
I’m not sure what you would consider “evidence.” If you’re looking for a peer reviewed paper with rigorous statistics and a properly set up control group, it doesn’t exist. But if the experience of numerous riders means anything, you ought to concur.
Now, a couple of final notes – First, St. Louis isn’t LA. I visited LA last year, and the cab ride from LAX to Hollywood was so frightening that I bailed out a mile from the hotel, on a prepaid cab ride, and walked. If I lived in LA, I think I’d prefer a cyclocopter, so I could stay off the roads entirely. And also, it is important to understand that nobody opposes bicycle recreational trails, which are completely separate from roads, and typically managed by a park district rather than a highway department. What we oppose is roadside bike lanes, which are typically little more than paint on the shoulder – and which are almost always far more dangerous than riding in the traffic lane.
Oddly, I’ve ridden in bike lanes whenever possible for over 30 years, and have experienced none of the harrowing dangers ascribed to them by vehicular cyclists such as yourself. I also ride vehicularly whenever a bike lane isn’t available, but far prefer a bike lane to riding in the traffic lane. And the 20-plus years I’ve been riding the streets of Los Angeles would tend to argue they are far less dangerous than you suggest.
As for those studies you say don’t exist, every single study I’ve seen indicates a well-designed bike lane is significantly safer for cyclists than similar streets without infrastructure. In fact, a peer-reviewed study from the University of British Columbia showed standard painted bike lanes result in a 50% reduction in injury rates, while protected bike lanes cut injury rates by up to 90%. In addition, if the dangers you cite were real, New York’s rapid expansion of bike lanes should have resulted in a dramatic increase in injuries and deaths; instead, injury rates remained stable despite a dramatic increase in ridership.
As for those two cases you cite from here, in the Claremont case, it now appears the victim had left the bike lane and was crossing the traffic lane to make a vehicular-style left turn when he was struck from behind. In the dooring case, the victim was on a street that does not have a bike lane; a door-zone separated bike lane, such as on Montana in Santa Monica, might have kept him out of danger. And in the three years I’ve been tracking bicycling fatalities in the seven-county Southern California region, there has been only one confirmed death as a result of dooring — this case would make two if the rumors of his death are confirmed. While dooring remains on of the most common types of cycling collisions, it is seldom fatal.
I have no problem with anyone who prefers to ride vehicularly rather than use a bike lane. It is up to you to ride in a manner you feel safest and most comfortable. But to argue that bike lanes place riders in greater danger flies in the face of all available evidence.
I am the St. Louis CyclingSavvy instructor mentioned in your blog post, and I have been misquoted. I did not say that bike lanes are dangerous. I said that riding in a bike lane is more dangerous than riding in the flow of traffic. Do you not understand the nuanced difference of this position?
My letter was published in our daily newspaper, and intended for a general audience. It was not meant to be a scholarly tract. And letter writers are allowed only 250 words or less to make their point.
I stand by my assertion, based on both observation and experience. Observation: Hundreds of people have been killed in U.S. bike lanes in the last decade or so. The same cannot be said of cyclists who control regular traffic lanes. Experience: I detest how close motorists come to me when I am riding in a bike lane. I receive much more clearance and courtesy when I am using a regular travel lane.
Cyclists who are “in the way” are seen. Bike lanes make cyclists irrelevant to other traffic.