This time, they can blame me.
It was just a few days before Christmas in 2013 when James Rapley went for a bike ride while on an extended layover at LAX on his way home to Australia for the holidays.
He turned up Temescal Canyon Rd, where he was killed by a stoned driver while riding in the uphill bike lane.
The more I learned about the crash, the more my stomach sank.
Because I’ve ridden that road countless times looking for a little challenge after riding along the beach — which is probably exactly what he was doing that morning. And had suffered a number of close calls myself as speeding drivers drifted into the unprotected bike lane after they failed to negotiate the road’s sweeping curves.
I had thought many times that the solution was a protected bike lane to separate riders from those speeding cars and careless drivers.
But kept the thought to myself, until it was too late.
So I began contacting city officials, calling for a parking-protected bike lane on Temescal between PCH and Sunset Blvd. Calls that repeatedly fell on deaf ears.
Until last year, when the BAC’s David Wolfberg and Danny Gamboa of Ghost Bikes LA and Empact Long Beach joined me in asking newly installed LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds for a meeting, in order to make the request one more time.
We never got that meeting.
Instead, we received an email saying not only did she like the idea, but that staff engineers were already at work designing the project.
We decided not to say anything at the time to avoid stirring up opposition before a design was even ready to discuss.
But the time has come.
The first public meeting to discuss the plan is scheduled to take place at 7 pm Thursday night in the Pacific Palisades Community Library, 861 Alma Real Drive, with CD 11 Mobility Deputy Jessie Holzer presenting.
The design work has moved along slowly due to the limited staff at LADOT.
But the last I heard, the plan called for a parking protected bike lane replacing the existing lane on the uphill side, and a buffered bike lane on the downhill side.
A protected lane isn’t practical heading downhill, where bike speeds can easily reach 30 mph or higher, to avoid trapping riders in the event of an emergency. But uphill, speeds are slow enough that even a fast climber should be able to easily brake to a stop without needing to exit the lane.
If the protected bike lane had been in place in 2013, there still might not have been enough parked cars present that early on a Sunday morning to block the car that drifted into the bike lane to take Rapley’s life. But even just moving the bike lane from the door zone to the curb might have provided enough separation to let him get back home to Australia with nothing more than a tale to tell.
Unfortunately, I can’t make the meeting tomorrow night.
But if you live, work or ride anywhere in the area, I urge you to attend to voice your support for the plan, and offer any suggestions you think could improve it.
Because the best memorial we can give James Rapley is to make sure it never happens again.
Streetsblog covers last night’s community engagement meeting in Hollywood to solicit input on LA’s Vision Zero plan, due to be released by the end of next month.
I was there, along with a couple dozen highly engaged community and safety advocates.
And even though I was highly skeptical when I walked in, I left feeling like LADOT and Vision Zero LA may really be committed to doing what it takes to reduce, if not eliminate, traffic deaths.
Although the lack of representation from the mayor’s office, or either of the city councilmembers representing the Hollywood area, doesn’t not speak well of the city’s commitment to support, let alone actually implement, the plan.
As always, the question is whether Los Angeles is willing to make the tough choices necessary to reduce serious injuries and fatalities, if that means eliminating parking, increasing congestion or standing up to community opposition.
I had been asked not to publicize the meetings, in order to maintain small working groups and keep them from devolving into the usual raucous conflicts between advocates and NIMBYs.
But you can find the full schedule on the Streetsblog piece; it’s worth attending if you can make it to one of the remaining meetings.
In sickening news from St. Louis, a former Los Angeles resident was attacked while riding his bike earlier this month.
Hip-hop artist and motivational speaker Jah Orah was lucky to escape with just a broken clavicle and sprained feet when a carful of youths attempted to rob him a gunpoint, then chased him down in their BMW, striking him at full speed while shouting “get that nigga” as he tried to ride away.
A gofundme account has raised over $10,000 of the $15,000 goal to help defray his expenses.
And hopefully, the kids responsible will soon be behind bars. For a very long time.
Thanks to Megan Lynch for the heads-up.
Nice long read from Bicycling profiling an Aussie pro known as the Bob Dylan of cycling, who would rather ride across the country — here or there — with his brother than train for his next race.
An international sports site says it’s time for a women’s Tour de France, running concurrently with the men’s race. To which I wholeheartedly agree.
Tour winner Chris Froome will ride the Vuelta following the Olympics, where former teammate Bradley Wiggins expects him to take the gold. One of the leading criticisms of Lance Armstrong — aside from the whole doping thing — was he didn’t take part in any of the classics, or any of the Grand Tours aside from the Tour de France; nice to see Froome isn’t a similar one-race wonder.
Strong Towns member Josef Bray-Ali explains why he’s running for LA city council against anti-bike incumbent Gil Cedillo.
Starting Monday, you can rent one of the new Metro Bike bikeshare bikes using a credit card.
The LACBC writes that bike infrastructure and education are working in tandem to improve safety.
CiclaValley says the site of the massive Sand Canyon fire is a familiar one for cyclists.
After being cancelled due to last weekend’s bad air as smoke from the fire drifted over the LA Basin, the third annual Tour de Laemmle has been rescheduled for August 21st.
The LA Weekly visits Culver City’s new meat-centric, bike-themed restaurant The Cannibal, and finds it lacking.
Long Beach announces plans for the city’s third Beach Streets open streets event in November.
Random attacks on homeless people continue in San Diego, as a man on a bike swung a hammer at a homeless man.
Santa Barbara approves a new Bicycle Master Plan designed to close gaps in the city’s existing bike network.
A Santa Cruz bike shop owner reports seeing a road-raging driver intentionally knock a cyclist off his bike, then run over the bicycle with the rider still underneath it.
Bicycling says the country’s first, and so far, only bikeshare death highlights the need for better infrastructure.
A Spokane cyclist explains why he carries a gun for self-defense when he rides to work.
A Colorado driver was high on dope when he killed an eight-year old girl as she rode her bicycle with her step-father; marijuana is legal in the state, but driving under the influence of anything isn’t.
A Dallas driver gets five years in jail and ten years probation for smashing into a bike rider, then driving half a mile with the victim’s body embedded in his windshield before unceremoniously dumping him in an alley.
The tour director for a Michigan bike advocacy group suffered multiple broken bones in hit-and-run on Saturday; the driver could face charges ranging from DUI to attempted homicide.
Tragic news from Ohio, as a young college student who disappeared while riding her bike home has been found dead; police have arrested a suspect who was convicted of a nearly identical crime 26 years earlier, except in that case, the bike-riding victim got away.
Tragic news from South Carolina, as a pregnant woman and her baby died after a head-on collision with a bike rider. This is why you always have to ride carefully around pedestrians; they’re often unpredictable, and the only ones more vulnerable on the streets than we are.
Go ahead, have that Coke after your ride.
A Canadian cyclist turns to profanity in an attempt to get her stolen bike back.
In a new study from the University of Duh, British Columbia researchers conclude that streetcar tracks increase the risk of bike crashes, while separated bike routes could cut the risk.
A British Shakespearean company is riding across the UK to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.
Yet another bike rider has been spotted riding on a British freeway, passing stalled traffic as he rode with no hands.
Bike riders in Denmark will now be allowed to turn right on red lights, but drivers still can’t.
Never mind philandering spouses or evil twins. An Aussie soap opera features a bike safety advocate painting his own DIY bike lanes to protest government inaction.
A teenaged Philippine cyclist was killed and his girlfriend wounded when a dispute over a near collision escalated into a fist fight, before the driver got a gun from his car and shot both of them. Which is why it’s always smarter to just ride away. Even if I have trouble doing that myself.
Caught on video: A Chinese distracted driver captured the crash that killed him on his dash cam as he fled from a fatal collision with a bike rider; a post mortem exam showed he was 15 times the legal alcohol limit.
And I don’t care if it makes you ride faster, I’ll take EPO over chewing animal testicles any day.