Morning Links: Protect your bike on Metro buses, motorists behaving badly, and more kindhearted people

Keep a close eye on you bike when you use those racks on the front of a bus.

That was the gist of an email I received Thursday evening, from someone who reported having his bike stolen while commuting home from work.

Fortunately it was not my favorite cyclocross bike but rather a Specialized Rock Hopper that’s about 15 years old and that I was thinking about replacing.  I ride buses a lot and I read the story of the fellow whose bike was stolen from rack while he was sitting in the back of the bus. So I sit in the front and I watch my bike at the stops.  In retrospect I realized that I mainly watch when it is the only bike up there, for anyone who is going up to the front that shouldn’t be there.  But this guy was a very clever thief who had a beater bike on the rack in front of mine. So even though I was watching my bike at the stop it didn’t occur to me that the guy in the front was undoing the bike catch to my bike and not his bike until it was too late.  I can tell you that watching doesn’t do much good when all it takes a few seconds to take the bike off, mount it and take off riding.  By the time I grabbed my backpack and my pannier and got past the people coming in the front door, it was too late.  And what would I have done anyway, taken him down with a running tackle?  My only option was to take the beater bike which he left.

I have been paranoid in regards public transportation — I sit near my bike on the MetroLink even if that means sitting on the floor or standing and I lock my bike on Amtrak because there are only about six seats down in the bike area and they are reserved for disabled.

But I can’t lock my bike to the Metro bike rack so instead I decided that I’m going to lock my rear wheel to the frame before I put it on the rack.  So if someone decides to take it they aren’t going to be able to ride it away.

That last bit is good advice.

Many bus drivers keep an eye on the bikes in front of them, but they can’t watch them all the time. And not every driver does.

So anything you can do to disable your bike to keep a thief from being able to easily ride or roll off with it could be enough to protect your bike from being stolen.

After all, it’s a lot harder to pick up a bike and run with it than it is to simply ride away.

………

Today’s common theme: Motorists behaving badly.

San Diego police are looking for a hit-and-run driver who rear-ended an experienced cyclist Thursday morning; she nearly lost a foot in the collision.

A Chicago woman faces felony drunk driving charges after drinking all day and running into an eight-year old boy as he rode his bike; she also had an open container in the car.

Unbelievable. Five Ohio cyclists were left crossed when the driver of pickup turned into them as they rode in a group; one rider died at the scene and two were airlifted to a hospital.

A New Jersey driver faces up to 20 years in prison if he’s convicted of first degree vehicular homicide and other assorted charges in the drunken hit-and-run death of a bike rider. To make matters worse, he 1) told police he thought he hit a deer, 2) told police he wasn’t the driver of the car, 3) refused to give a urine sample without a warrant, and 4) had been driving on a suspended license since 2007.

A South Carolina driver faces charges for driving with a suspended license and operating an uninsured motor vehicle. But the cyclist he killed? No big deal.

A road-raging English driver is charged with intentionally chasing down and ramming a bicyclist, all because the cyclist touched the man’s car to steady himself at a red light. The driver claimed the victim had swerved into his car, which was disproven by security cam footage.

A Helsinki driver faces up to eight years for deliberately running down and killing a cyclist in a road rage incident.

And how distracted does a driver have to be to miss — or rather, not miss — a camel walking on the side of a road in Southern California?

Then again, it’s not just motorists; Scotland police are looking for a cyclist who whacked a schoolboy in the head with his bike lock.

………

Thankfully, we can counter that with a few stories of people at their best.

Minutes after big-hearted Kansas City police take a report of a stolen kids’ bike, they come back with a new one to replace it.

The owners of a Michigan Pizza Parlor gave a new bike to an autistic employee after his was stolen while he was at a movie to celebrate his first paycheck.

A NASA engineer in Huntsville AL fixes bikes for neighborhood kids and gives away refurbished ones, along with life lessons for the young riders.

………

For reasons known only to them, Cleveland is redefining buffered bike lanes, apparently choosing to protect cyclists from riding too close to the curb while moving them next to the far more dangerous traffic to the left.

Photo by Angie Schmitt

Photo by Angie Schmitt

………

A couple quick notes from this week’s Interbike in Las Vegas.

Credit Jay Wolff of the Santa Monica Helen’s Cycles with bringing the stars of Breaking Away back together.

In light of the Interbike sockgate scandal, Bike Radar lists five of the bike industry’s most sexist marketing fails. Of course, these are just from the last few years; bike marketing has been a boy’s club for decades. And they wonder why more women don’t ride.

And what could be a more natural product extension for a multi-sport clothing maker to roll out than a new reposado tequila?

………

Local

Mad Men producer Tom Smuts will once again be riding his bike to the Emmys this Sunday, along with actors Aaron Eckhart and Jon Huertas, and producers Alex Cary and James Younger. City officials including councilmember Tom Bonin will tag along.

Streetsblog offers an update on Metro’s planned bikeshare system, which remains on track for a sponsorless mid-2016 opening.

A writer for USC’s Daily Trojan badly misunderstands and misrepresents LA’s new mobility plan; the plan is actually designed to reduce congestion by providing alternatives to driving. Evidently, she’s learned the wrong lesson from modern American politics, that facts don’t matter as long as they’re labeled opinion.

The LA Weekly’s Hillel Aron tries to ride the full length of the LA River. Even in two parts — the ride, not the story — it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Santa Monica is nearing completion of the new Colorado Esplanade connecting the terminus of the Expo Line with the Santa Monica Pier, including a two-way separated bike path.

The 29th annual Nautica Malibu Triathlon rolls, runs and splashes through the city this weekend.

 

State

The OC Register astutely observes that even adults need to know how to ride a bike.

San Diego strawberries may end up costing a little more, but residents will be rewarded with a new rail bike and ride.

A San Luis Obispo man gives a whole new meaning to the term custom bike maker.

San Francisco posts banners to encourage drivers to slow down. Might as well, since nothing else seems to work.

 

National

New census data shows that bike commuting continues to grow in the US. The findings are even more impressive since census data undercounts transportation cycling by failing to including multi-modal or non-work related trips.

Tern and Xtracycle team up for a cargo foldie; a Kickstarter to fund it is just over halfway to the $60,000 goal with 29 days to go.

El Paso is the latest city to get bikeshare before Los Angeles.

Thousands of bike riders tear through the Motor City with Slow Roll Detroit at breakneck speeds up to 10 mph.

No bias here. A Connecticut newspaper says a 10-year old girl was critically injured when she hit a car while riding her bike, then later explains that the car actually struck her.

New York’s mayor is taking credit for a 13% drop in traffic deaths in his first year in office. Even though the bike lanes, road diets and other changes to the streets that most likely led to it were done under the previous administration.

Now there’s a new excuse. Bike-friendly improvements to a New York street have been put off until the UN adjourns and the pope puts the city in his rear view mirror.

Police in New York’s Upper West Side credit a 40% decrease in injuries to a 160% increase in cyclist traffic tickets.

 

International

Yes, longer bike shorts really are more aero. And no, you’re probably not fast enough for it to make a difference.

A Swedish couple bicycling around the world was hit by a car in Brazil. The driver, who was going 12 mph over the speed limit, will face a manslaughter charge after the woman rider didn’t make it.

Vancouver police realize they had already impounded the bike that had been stolen from a Taiwanese cyclist on an around-the-world ride after a reporter called to ask about it.

An 18-year old London man was convicted of stabbing a 15-year old boy to death in an utterly senseless attack to steal his bicycle.

Nice. Employees can ride their bike directly into a new London office building and down a ramp to the basement, where they’ll find bike parking, changing rooms and lockers.

Dubai has made a big push to become bike friendly with a network of bicycle paths, cycle tracks and bike lanes across the emirate.

Aussie cyclists may finally be able to legally stand on their pedals.

Bangkok, Thailand goes car-free this Sunday, though the city still has a long way to go to make bicycling an everyday choice for people.

 

Finally…

Caught on video: Wherever you’ve ridden, it probably doesn’t compare to a 59-foot slack line over a 367-foot gorge. If you’re going to steal $120 worth of coffee from a donut shop, don’t go back there a few days later riding the same distinctive bike, and leave the heroin and drug paraphernalia at home while you’re at it.

And drivers already act like you’re wearing a cloak of invisibility on your bike. So why not do it for real?

 

11 comments

  1. Brian Nilsen says:

    Was riding down Venice yesterday morning when I realized that Cleveland isn’t the only place that puts the buffer on the wrong side of the bike lane…

    http://i.imgur.com/x0BDZ7N.jpg

    • DG Spencer Ludgate says:

      Actually, that buffer is on the correct side. It helps prevent right hooks by forcing motorists to merge into the bike lane. It helps prevent left crosses by making you more visible (Venice is three lanes across). It keeps you out of the debris that accumulates in the gutter.

    • DG Spencer Ludgate says:

      Another anti-theft trick. Put the bike in the highest (hardest – e.g. 53/11) gear…

  2. Bryan J Blumberg says:

    I have 2 friends who have had their bicycles stolen off of the bike racks in the front of LA Metro buses. This must be very common. But could someone enlighten me as to why one cannot or may not lock their bike to the bike rack before boarding the bus? I realize that doing so would be inconvenient, but is there some physical obstruction or policy that caused the author of this message to write “I CAN’T lock my bike to the Metro bike rack”?

    • Gil says:

      I am the author of the post and I am not sure that I can’t lock my bike to the rack but I am going to guess that the driver would stop me. They run on tight schedules and anything that takes extra time is going to create a problem. although another thought that I had is taking a large zip tie and a pair of cutters to get it off quickly and using that to attach it to the rack. It might not be noticed and would be quick.

      • Joe Linton says:

        I’ve locked my bike onto the rack dozens of times. One time a driver asked me not to do it the next time. What I recommend, though is to just U-lock one wheel to the frame… that way nobody can actually ride your bike away. If you’re fairly strong, you can do this before the bus comes, so there are no delays.

      • Ben says:

        Per Metro’s rules you can’t lock your bike directly to rack. I’ve done it before on numerous buses and been yelled at by a couple bus operators. I ride on the bus with my bike all the time here is my system: Simple cable lock locking the front wheel to the frame so the thief can’t ride away. I constructed a simple strap(like a helmet strap without the helmet) and I use that to “lock” my bike to the bus rack. So there is another barrier to get the bike off the rack and it is unable to be ridden away when taken off.

        • Margaret says:

          Not a solution for everyone, but how about installing a ‘café/o-ring’
          lock on your bike? Flying Pigeon sells them. I have one. In the unlocked position, the key remains in the lock. Makes it easy to quickly lock your bike before putting it on the rack.

  3. Vox_Populi says:

    I like that café-o-ring idea?
    But if you got a front wheel quick release hub can’t you take the wheel on board the bus? Just a thought?

    • Gil says:

      Thanks for the suggestions. The bus drivers on the routes I take are usually pretty no-nonsense and I’m guessing they would make me go back and unlock it when I got on the bus or at the next stop as soon as they noticed it was locked. However, I like the helmet strap idea because I do keep my helmet on the handlebars. I think I’m going to see if I can clip the straps around the spokes and the bar that holds the front wheel, which would definitely slow somebody down if they want to try and take the bike. Or maybe lock the back wheel and add a sign that says, “Wheel locked and I’m watching with pepper spray ready so Make My Day.”

  4. Alex says:

    Just lock one of the wheels with a short rope lock (to the frame, not to the bike rack). When leaving the bus, lift the bike up and unlock it on the sidewalk.

    Anything obvious to show the would-be thief your bike is not an easy target.

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