Morning Links: Anti-road diet NIMBYs boycott businesses, road safety in LA & Houston, and New Yorker bike covers

Last month, the road diets in Playa del Rey were ripped out before they had a chance to prove whether they were working.

Now we know why.

A must-read tweetstorm from writer Peter Flax, who served on Councilmember Mike Bonin’s ill-fated committee to re-examine the lane reductions, reveals that the primary reason behind their removal was the negative effect they were having on local business.

Which wasn’t coincidental.

He offers a number of social media posts in which opponents of the road diets call for a boycott of businesses in the area to force them to oppose the safety measures. Which were then echoed by anti-road diet forces like Keep LA Moving — whose leader actually lives in Manhattan Beach — Recall Bonin, and conservative radio hosts John and Ken.

And now the same tactics are being used in Mar Vista, where the owner of Louie’s restaurant blamed the lane reductions in the Venice Blvd Great Streets Project for the failure of his restaurant.

Even though it had just reopened after being closed for a vermin infestation. And even though it had a meager 2.5 Yelp rating. And even though a new chef insisted on making much hated changes to the place, including a new upscale menu, that drove longtime customers away.

But sure, let’s blame the removal of excess lane capacity, which didn’t result in the loss of a single parking space.

Despite, as Peter notes, numerous studies from around the country showing that Complete Streets projects like the one on Venice are good for business — including one on LA’s York Blvd, which has thrived since a road diet went in.

Of course, that doesn’t fit with the NIMBY narrative that Vision Zero and road diets are the work of Satan himself.

………

A powerful piece from Los Angeles resident and Houston native Colleen Corcoran compares the traffic safety problems and struggle to improve safety for bike riders and pedestrians in the two cities.

Corcoran, a co-founder of CicLAvia, says no one should die as a result of thoughtless street design — after her own mother was killed riding her bike through a dangerous Houston intersection earlier this year.

………

We’ve mentioned this one before, but it’s worth mentioning again. An online petition opposes a proposal allowing a private school to take over a public road in Calabasas, which is a popular route allowing bicyclists to bypass traffic on busy Mulholland Highway. Thanks to Steve S. for the reminder.

………

A new Flickr page offers an exceptional collection of bicycling covers from the New Yorker dating back to the 1920s.

………

An Irish pundit apologized for calling bike riders Nazis, and swore he would never give a Nazi salute again.

Of course, his apology was to a local Jewish organization, not to the people he accused of being a brown-shirt uniformed, two-wheeled cult.

………

Local

Construction for the MyFigueroa project is getting blamed for some of the parking problems in South Park, even though it has the support of local businesses.

A December 2nd exhibition at the LA Central Library in DTLA will feature makers, including an LA man who explores “unique bicycle shapes and designs.”

The Daily News reports on Saturday’s Finish the Ride event in Sunland-Tujunga in honor of fallen bicyclist Jeff Knopp.

 

State

Advocates for the homeless insist that the 1,000 bikes found after a homeless camp along the Santa Ana River Trail was cleared out had nothing to do with the people who had been living there, since they were found in a tunnel over two miles away.

A Huntington Beach man gets six years behind bars for attacking a police officer who stopped his son for a traffic violation while they were riding their bikes; the younger man had already been sentenced to seven years after pleading guilty last year.

Apple is donating $1.8 million to build a protected bike lane in Cupertino.

Two thousand Bay Area cyclists, joggers, skaters and strollers gear up for Thanksgiving with a 2.5 mile carfree Sunday.

 

National

Denver voted for $431 million in transportation bonds, including $18 million for bicycle projects.

Plans are underway for a program that could link Wyoming’s bike trails into a statewide network.

Sad news, as the 88-year old founder of Iowa’s legendary RAGBRAI passed away last week.

A 21-mile Ohio bike path connects local four breweries and a cider house.

Now that’s more like it. A Kentucky driver gets 35 years for the drunk and stoned hit-and-run death of a bike rider; he drove three miles after the crash with his dying victim still in the bed of his truck.

Evidently Los Angeles isn’t the only place where NIMBYs want to rip out recently installed bike lanes; outraged Cambridge, Mass residents working under the misnomer Safe Streets for All are demanding that the lanes be redesigned and parking restored, and want bike riders to be required to carry ID.

A New Jersey paper says the state’s new governor should embrace multi-use bike and pedestrian trails.

 

International

A Mexican TV executive was shot to death on Sunday when a group of thieves attempted to steal his bicycle on the outskirts of Mexico City.

Forget Everesting. A Vancouver bicyclist climbed one million feet by riding up a local mountain every day for a year to raise funds to fight pancreatic cancer.

Toronto drivers appear to be adjusting to the presence of bike lanes after initial anger. Which is usually what happens if authorities can resist the urge to rip them out before they have a chance to succeed.

A new survey shows four out of five people in the UK want protected bike lanes in cities.

Good question. The Guardian’s Peter Walker asks why cyclists are the one minority the BBC is okay with demonizing. Although there’s no point in limiting it to the Beeb, as media outlets around the world are perfectly okay with attacking people who ride bikes in ways they wouldn’t anyone else. Including right here in LA.

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson says Britain’s streets aren’t big enough for buses and bikes, and one of them has to go.

The Guardian asks if Copenhagen has hit peak bicycle, as ridership dips and more drivers take to the roads.

Not surprisingly, the best way to tour Soweto, South Africa is by bicycle. Like pretty much any other city you could name.

An Aussie cyclist was deliberately run off the road by a road raging driver after attempting to intervene in his dispute with another motorist. Meanwhile, an Australian councilor calls for an ad hoc committee to find solutions to road rage between motorists and cyclists. Never mind that most of the anger comes from the people in the cars. And they’re the ones with the four-wheeled weapons.

A new Australian study confirms that people who ride bikes are better drivers.

Singapore’s largest organized bike ride draws 6,500 riders, including many dressed as superheroes.

An industrial design student wins an Asian award for his wooden children’s bicycle that converts from a balance bike to a pedal bike as the kids get older.

 

Competitive Cycling

Britain’s Team Sky is accused of gaming the system for therapeutic exemptions that allow riders to use otherwise banned medications.

Fabian Cancellara challenges fellow retired pro Phil Gaimon to beat him in one of Fabian’s fondos, after Gaimon’s new book repeated accusations that Cancellara was motor doping, somehow thinking it would be no big deal. And no, this isn’t beginning to sound the least like a cycling soap opera.

The Daily Beast remembers Italian cycling legend Gino Bartali and his top secret work to save Jews in WWII, as the Giro make plans to start in Jerusalem next year.

VeloNews calls 16-year old Katie Clouse the next star of US cyclocross.

 

Finally…

If you’re riding while already on probation, probably best to leave the meth and dope at home. Your next bike helmet could have an airbag.

And this is why you don’t Instagram while riding.

 

26 comments

  1. William Wickwire says:

    RE: VISTA DEL MAR – Playa del Rey residents also suffered, not being able to get in or out of their own community.
    Café Pinquini had 40 dinner cancellations one night.
    You cannot compare a place like this beach community two cities like Toronto with networks of parallel roads.
    Today’s blog also talks about developing networks of bike trails and most of us don’t disagree with that but not by removing car lande and not when the bike lanes abruptly stop; that’s defeating the purpose.

    • bikinginla says:

      Maybe not. But you can compare it with Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and countless little beach cities up and down the West Coast that have conducted road diets with little or no public outcry or ill effects. And as Flax makes very clear, many of those restaurant cancellations may have been due to an organized boycott by people opposed to the road diet. Thanks to their own comments, the effects on business, whether true or not, no longer have any credibility.

      • William Wickwire says:

        I disagree completely. Los Angeles compares more to sprawling cities like Houston not compact little cities with multiple parallel streets.
        And PDR is not exactly a cute little beach city. It’s cute enough, for sure, but it has always been in the middle of a commuter path since I was a little boy. For more than 50 years it’s been the same way and somebody (Bonin) wants to change it now without building any other alternate methods of transportation? Are you kidding? And you know there’s a backstory there about him being culpable for failing to make safety improvements he promised to make and, I would argue that his in action is what cost Los Angeles taxpayers $9.5 million.

        I think, be honest, you never actually went out there during this mess did you? During peak traffic? Both directions? If you had been, you would know that this is nothing like those other cities you listed. Many other cities with limited roadway and a strong need for commuter pass-through with dedicate lands for reverse direction, but this sort of solution has never been examined in Los Angeles. It would also work on routes like Olympic Boulevard and Pici Boulevard.

        And those tweets are certainly not from all restaurant owners. They absolutely do not condemn all business owners because of a couple tweets from people who might’ve been misplacing blame for otherwise failing businesses. Your logic is faulty, sir.

        • bikinginla says:

          Oh please, I’m not going to get into another long, drawn out comment string with you.

          No, I never went out there. But yes, I heard from several people who did, including some who sent video of traffic flowing smoothly. I also know that by the time the road diet had been removed, the backups had largely been resolved, just as I had predicted when they first started. None of which mattered, largely due to a successful disinformation campaign from opponents.

          I know you disagree. I know you find my logic faulty. I know you think I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. I totally get that.

          I also know that experience in the real world shows that projects like this can and do work in situations very much like Playa and Mar Vista. I also know there is not a damn thing unique about Los Angeles, or any problems seen here that have not been successfully addressed in other cities around the world.

          It works. It’s proven. You might as well argue against gravity.

          On the other hand, I will be the first to agree that this situation was handled about as badly as possible by Bonin, Garcetti and LADOT, putting any future projects like this at risk, no matter how badly they’re needed.

          • William Wickwire says:

            I’ll try this again.

            My last comment either never posted, or got deleted.

            You have just confirmed what I suspected. You have no personal experience about what you are talking about.

            Well, I do. And I can tell you that westbound traffic on Culver Blvd. extended miles, all the way past Rte. 90, Marina del Rey Freeway. When Playa Vista was built, many of us protested that there should be alternate transportation (bigger roads was what we thought) as a condition of development. Deaf ears. Now, even those folks, who moved there to be close in part to the beach, couldn’t even get there for a sunset. Not the quality of life people want.

            I don’t want another long drawn out thread discussing the same thing either. But you are PART of the disinformation yourself.

            So, tell me another project anywhere that is like Culver Blvd. and Vista del Mar, involving MILES of lanes with no parallel routes, where eliminating 50% of traffic lanes has worked without just moving the project elsewhere. That is the story in Venice as well…and YES, dermatologists are smart people with an ability to think creatively and SOLVE PROBLEMS for people…so don’t disparage the trade (re. Kenneth Alpern, M.D., who has YEARS of experience and interest in alternative transportation problems and solutions).

            • bikinginla says:

              Hey William? My wife is in the hospital now and thinks aren’t going well. She should have been home last week, and now I just found out she’s not going to be home for at least another week.

              So you will please excuse me if I really don’t give a rat’s ass about this crap right now.

              If you think I’m part of the disinformation, despite really on the facts instead of anecdotes, the door is right over there.

              As for dermatologists, they are really smart people with a lot of knowledge about skin problems. However, I have yet to see a medical school that requires a course in traffic planning before graduating. I’m not going to rely on a traffic engineer to remove my skin cancer, either.

  2. William Wickwire says:

    A dermatologist. But also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at http://www.fogl.us.

    http://www.citywatchla.com/index.php/los-angeles-for-rss/14310-maybe-it-s-not-a-good-idea-to-turn-venice-into-another-wilshire-blvd

  3. bikinginla says:

    Hey, JTRusso, the commenting rules on this site require that you show respect for others, and avoid personal attacks. Since your comment fails on both counts, it has been removed.

    And since you obviously made that comment fully aware of what’s going on with my wife right now, I’m going to break my own rules and tell you to go fuck yourself.

    • JTRusso says:

      I don’t know you, your wife or anything that is going on in your lives. If you have a problem with what I said I suggest you take it up with William Shakespeare.

      • bikinginla says:

        And yet oddly, you referred to something in the same comments in which I mentioned what was going on with my wife. So either you did know, or your reading skills sucks big time.

  4. Dan Grody says:

    Good job on that journalism, bud!

  5. Dan Grody says:

    Just wanted to compliment you on your great journalism here bud! Have a nice day!

  6. Will Shepler says:

    A word of advice regarding your first story, don’t put much faith in the assertions of Peter Flax. It is true that in the early days of the PDR lane removals, some people advocated boycotting the businesses. But Keep LA Moving never took that course. In fact, they sponsored 2 separate Saturday events, where the group patronized PDR businesses en masse to help support them. On the other hand, several business owners shared that pro-road-dieters had come to their businesses and threatened boycotts if they put anti-road-diet signs in their windows.

    Mr. Peter Flax has a pretty nasty history online. He posted home addresses on twitter of those who gave money to the anti road diet cause. Basically online intimidation. He enacted similar behavior attacking parents of his own kid’s schoolmates over a grade school dispute. He’s also been personally named in a lawsuit for a story he completed on Mickey Rooney’s later years. In short, I wouldn’t tie my story to his claims.

    I appreciate your responses on this chain which are civil and honest. That’s what this issue needs. and I sincerely wish your family the best in this tough time.

    • bikinginla says:

      Thank you for that last line. I truly appreciate that right now.

    • Peter Flax says:

      Hey Will: I don’t know you but happy to meet you for a cup of coffee where we could talk this out if you are willing to look me in the eye and repeat these assertions. Most of what you say is half-true — meaning pieces of it are true and important pieces are not true. I’m easy to find on FB and Twitter. I’ve had dozens and dozens of conversations with people in MB who’ve reached out. In any case you should read the Mickey Rooney story that led to the lawsuit—it’s an important piece about how his former wife and stepson abused him physically, emotionally and mentally.
      Best, Peter

  7. Biked says:

    The people who live outside are not common to each other in any way except spending less directly on housing.

    Some may even donate that money to medical research, some who comment with the aclu are considered nuts but require evidence as they should of that beyond there failure to pay for or keep indoors more, when far more are insane to work for rent while miserable, to pay huge for parking, to never save. Biking can spare people unafforable costs, but tainting it with poverty or the apparent poor with a common brush is just wrong… thanks for update!

  8. Biked says:

    The airbags are needed on the shoulders or the head will just be ripped off or the bag torn open.

    The inventor is right however, a cpu can act for us when pur brain is too slow or in shock.

    Not a mere censor or merely to call for aid.

    I prefer the exploding seat post and parachute systems lol but $4,500 is dangerous toying to develop such a cap.it seems wearable always inflated…

  9. Biked says:

    The reconfiguring of roads seems to need greater court involvement, a more deliberate path forward where not experimental as special and class interests can corrupt process if left to local political will.

    Safety is less optional then that. Evidence can matter more. One families unimpeded nightly drive to beach does not trump sparing lives. Needs not wants should govern community matters, safe lanes cost more, if wanted they need to be safe. .. but restored to mere dangerousness the price is too high.

  10. Biked says:

    We need the right to safety, the ability to force it. Where a road is made needlessly dangerous a court can order it be closed completely until the overture retreats. Such law is ours to vison first, then pass, prosecute, survive by. We don’t have to let wrongly afforded roads kill us. Provably dangerous is preventable in our respect for all lives but not if we depend on mob mercy.

    • William Wickwire says:

      @Biked: I believe you just made a point in favor of returning to the original configuration.
      The reconfigurations to the roads actually made the road less safe and accidents were up.
      We know that Mike Vaughn and does not take safety seriously as he has failed when given the opportunity and when he made a promise to install crosswalks and lights on Vista del Mar and he failed again on Pacific Avenue resulting in death. He was no-show for depositions and as a result the city was forced to settle for a large amount of money, $9.5 million, in the case of one episode.
      You can say “wanting to get to the beach” is I want to not a need but needing to get home… It’s the same difference just a different way of looking at the same thing. All that parking that created much of the stir along the beachfront was not for people who needed to get to the beach. It was for people wanted to go to the beach.
      And the roads don’t kill us. Human beings who make mistakes kill us. That will never completely go away and as almost everything in life goes, it’s about the balance that works best for most people.

  11. scott rose says:

    having lived in the south bay for 18 years and experienced driving and cycling the north and south of vista del mar during rush hour and quiet times, it must be said that it is treated as a de facto freeway. curious, but i wouldn’t be surprised, if a majority of those that drive it do not reside in either playa del rey (or el segundo enroute) or manhattan beach? i’d wager more than half don’t and use it as a drive-thru to hermosa/redondo or venice/samo in attempts to escape the 405. more lanes are not the answer. they just encourage more uncaring, selfish driving. you could bump the lanes on vista del mar out to 4 lanes each side (or on the 405 ten lanes a side). you’ll still have significant slowing of traffic.
    the days of milk & honey are over. the sooner you accept it, the better. be the change (someone once said) vs fighting it. traffic in los angeles is not getting better without people cycling, ridesharing, carpooling, going before/after/peak times, using (gasp!) public transportation. have your transportation habits changed? are you consolidating trips? working from home? using flex hours? or are you stubbornly stuck to that 6-2/7-3/8-4/9-5 job tying up the marvel that previously was known as the los angeles freeway system?

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